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THE DOVER ROAD 



HISTORIES OF THE ROADS 

— BY — 

Charles G. Harper. 



THE BRIGHTON ROAD : The Classic Highway 

to the South. 
THE GREAT NORTH ROAD : London to York. 
THE GREAT NORTH ROAD : York to Edinburgh. 
THE DOVER ROAD : Annals of an Ancient 

Turnpike. 
THE BATH ROAD : History, Fashion and 

Frivolity on an old Highway. 
THE MANCHESTER AND GLASGOW ROAD : 

London to Manchester. 
THE MANCHESTER ROAD : Manchester to 

Glasgow. 

THE HOLYHEAD ROAD : London to Birming- 
ham. 

THE HOLYHEAD ROAD : Birmingham to 

Holyhead. 
THE HASTINGS ROAD : And The " Happy 

Springs of Tunbridge." 
THE OXFORD. GLOUCESTER AND MILFORD 

HAVEN ROAD : London to Gloucester. 
THE OXFORD, GLOUCESTER AND MILFORD 

HAVEN ROAD • Gloucester to Milford Haven. 
THE NORWICH ROAD An East AngUan 

Highway. 
THE NEWMARKET. BURY, THETFORD AND 

CROMER ROAD. 
THE EXETER ROAD : The West of England 

Highway. 
THE PORTSMOUTH ROAD. 
THE CAMBRIDGE, KING'S LYNN AND ELY 

ROAD. 




MERCERY LANE, CANTERBURY. 



The 

DOVER ROAD 

Annals of an Ancient Turnpike 
By CHARLES G. HARPER 

Illustrated by the Author and from Old Prints 
and Portraits 




o k 



Hartford, Connecticut 
EDWIN VALENTINE MITCHELL 






First Published 1895. 
Second and HtvLsed Edition 1922. 



Manufactured in England by C. Tinling & Co., Ltd. 
53, Victoria Stret^t, Liverpool, 
and 187, Fleet Street, London. 




/T has been said, by whom I knoiv not, that " jwefaces 
to books are like signs to public-houses ; they are 
intended to give one an idea of the kind of enter- 
tainment to be found within.'' But this preface is not to 
be like those ; for it would require an essay in itself to 
give a comprehensive idea of the Dover Road, in all its 
implications. A road is not merely so many miles of 
highway, more or less well-maintained. It is not only 
sojnething in the surveyor's way ; but history as well. 
It is life, touched at every point. 

The Dover Road — the highway between London and 
that most significant of ajjproaches to the Continent of 



PREFACE 

Europe — would have been something much more in its 
mere name had it not been for the accident of London : 
one of the greatest Occidents. It ivould have been considered 
a part of the great road to Chester and to Holyhead : the 
route diagonally across England, from sea to sea, which 
really in the first instatice it was. 

For the Dover Road is actually the initial limb of the 
Watling Street : that prehistoric British trackway 
adopted by the Romans and by them engineered into a 
road ; and it would seeju that those Roman engineers, 
instructed by the Imperial authorities, considered rather 
the military and strategic needs of those times than those of 
LoNDiNiuM ; for London was not on the direct road they 
made ; and it was only at a later date, zvhen it was groivn 
commercially, they constructed an alternative route that 
served it. 

It would be rash to declare that more history has been 
enacted on this road than on any other, although we may 
suspect it ; but certainly history is more spectacular along 
these miles. Those pageants and glittering processions 
are of the i^ci'^t : they ended in 1840, when raihvays were 
about to supplant the road ; when the last distinguished 
traveller along these miles. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg 
Gotha, came up by carriage to zved Queen T^ictoria. 

CHARLES G. HARPER. 
February, 1922. 



THE ROAD TO DOVER 



London Bridge (Surrey side) to- 



Borough (St. George's Church) 

Kent Street 

Newington (" Bricklayers' Arms 

New Cross . 

Deptford 

Blackheath . 

Shooter's Hill 

Shoulder of Mutton Green 

Belle Grove 

Welling 

Crook Log . 

Bexley Heath 

Crayford (Cross River Cray) 

Dartford (Cross River Darent) 

John's Hole 

Horn's Cross 

Greenhithe 

Northfleet . 

Gravesend (Jubilee Tower) 

Milton 

Chalk Street 

Gad's Hill (" Falstaff " Inn) 

Strood (Cross River Medway) 

Rochester (Guildhall) . 

Chatham (Town Pier) . 

Rainham .... 



THE DOVER ROAD 



London Bridge (Surrey Side) to- 









MIT.F.S 


Moor Street 34^ 


Newington .... 






36| 


Key Street 






38 


Chalk Well 






39 


Sittingbourne (Parish Church) 






40 


Bapchild .... 






41i 


Radfield .... 






41| 


Green Street 






421 


Ospringe .... 






451 


Preston .... 






461 


Boughton-under-Blean . 






49 


Boughton Hill 






50 


Dunkirk .... 






5U 


Harbledown 






54 


Canterbury (Cross River Stour) 






55i 


Gutteridge Gate . 






57 


Bridge (Cross River Stour) . 






581 


Halfway House . 






62f 


Lydden .... 






65| 


Temple Ewell 






671 


Buckland .... 






69 


Dover ..... 






70| 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Mercery Lane, Canterbury . Frontispiece 

South Gateway, Old London Bridge . 

The " George " 

Old Telegraph Tower, Tooley Street . 

The " Spur " Inn 

Saturday Night in the Old Kent Road 
Greenwich Observatory .... 

Arms of Spielman and his first wife . 
Dart ford Church ..... 

The " Bull " Inn, Dartford 

Dartford Bridge ..... 

Riverside, Gravesend .... 

Denton Chapel . . . . . 

Joe Gargery's Forge .... 

Ancient Carving — Chalk .... 

Sailors' Folly ...... 

Jack come home again .... 

The Light Fantastic. Bank Holiday at Chalk 
Gad's Hill Place. Residence of Charles Dickens 
The " Falstaff," Gad's Hill 
A Good Samaritan ..... 

Rochester Castle and the Medway 

High Street, Rochester : Eastgate House . 

Jack in his Glory ..... 



PAGE 

6 

7 

10 

15 

21 

26 

52 

54 

56 

59 

69 

80 

81 

82 

83 

84 

85 

92 

94 

111 

116 

122 

123 



THE DOVER ROAD 

PAGE 

The liniisioii of Eiigland : England . . . 127 

The Invasion of England : Erance . 

Paid off at Chatham 

Key Street ..... 

Yard of the " Lion " Hotel, Sittingbourne 

Osi)ringe : a June hop-garden . 

'' Sir William Courtenay " 

" Courtenay " 

Westgate, Canterbury 

The Due de Nivernais 

The Blaek Prinee's Arms and Badge 

" A Gorgeous Creature 

William Clements . 



131 
135 
148 
160 
167 
177 
180 
190 
193 
205 
215 
216 
218 
223 
227 
231 
239 
241 
Dover Castle, from the Folkestone Road : Sunrise 251 



Bridge . 

" Old England's Hole " 

Barham Downs 

Watling Street : Moonrise 

Floods at Alkham : The Drellingore Stream 

St. Radigund's Abbey .... 




Of all the historic highways of England, the story 
of the old Road to Dover is the most difficult to tell. 
Xo other road in all Christendom (or Pagandom either, 
for that matter) has so long and continuous a history, 
nor one so crowded in every age with incident and 
associations. The writer, therefore, who has the 
telling of that story to accomplish is weighted with a 
heavy sense of responsibility, and though (like a village 
boy marching fearfully through a midnight chiu'chyard) 
he whistles to keep his courage warm, yet, for all his 
outAvard show of indifference, he keeps an awed glance 
upon the shadows that beset his path, and is prepared 
to take to his heels at any moment. 

And see what portentous shadows crowd the long 
reaches of the Dover Road, and demand attention ! 
Cjcsar's presence haunts the weird plateau of Barham 
Downs, and the alert imagination hears the tramp 
of the legionaries aloniJ[ Watlino- Street on moonlit 



2 THE DOVER ROAD 

nights. Shades of Britons, Saxons, Danes, and 
Normans people the streets of tlie old towns throngh 
which the highway takes its course, or crowd in 
warlike array upon the hillsides. Kings and queens, 
nobles, saints of different degrees of sanctity, great 
blackguards of every degree of blackguardism, and 
ecclesiastics holy, haughty, proud, or pitiful, rise up 
before one and terrify with thoughts of the space the 
record of their doings Avould occupy ; in fine, the 
wraiths and phantoms of nigh upon two thousand 
years combine to intimidate the historian. 

How rich, then, the road in material, and how 
embarrassing the accumulated wealth of twenty 
centuries, and how impossible, too, to do it the barest 
justice in this one volume ! Many volumes and bulky 
should go toward the telling of this story ; and for the 
proper presentation of its pageantry, for the due 
setting forth of the lives of high and low, rich or poor, 
upon these seventy miles of highwa}^, the rugged- 
wrought periods of Carlyle, the fateful march of 
Thomas Hardy's rustic tragedies, the sly humour and 
the felicitous phrases of a Stevenson, should be added 
to the whimsical drolleries of Tom Ingoldsby. To 
these add the lucid arrangement of a Macaulay shorn 
of rhetorical redundancies, and, with space to command 
one might hope to give a glowing word-portraiture of 
the Dover Road ; while, with the aid of pictorial genius 
like that possessed by those masters of their art, 
Morland and Rowlandson, illustrations might be 
fashioned that would shadow fortli the life and scenery 
of the wayside to the admiration of all. Without 
these gifts of the gods, who shall say he has done all 
this subject demands, nor how sufliciently narrate 
within the compass of these covers the doings of sixty 
generations ? 

The Dover Road, then, to make a beginning with 
our journej^ is measured from the south side of 
London Bridge, and is seventy and three-quarters 
of a mile long. 



THE COACHES 



II 



If we had wished, in the first year of the reign 'of 
Queen Victoria, to proceed to Dover with the utmost 
expedition and despatch consistent with coach- 
travelUng, we should have booked seats in Mr. Benjamin 
Worthy Home's " Foreign Mail," which left the 
General Post-Office in Saint Martin's-le-Grand every 
Tuesday and Frida}^ nights, calling a few minutes 
later at the " Cross Keys," Wood Street, and finally 
arriving at Dover in time for the packets at 8.15 the 
following morning ; thus beating by half an hour the 
time of any other coach then running on this road. 

If, on the other hand, we objected to night travel, 
we should hs,ve had to sacrifice that half-hour, and 
go by either the " Express," which, starting from the 
" Golden Cross," Charing Cross, at 10 a.m. every 
morning, did the journey in nine hours ; or else by the 
" Union " coach, which, travelling at an equal speed, 
left the " White Bear," Piccadilly, at 9 a.m. Not that 
these were the only choice. Coaches in plenty left 
town for Dover ; the " Eagle," the " Phoenix," 
Worthington's Safety Coaches, the " Telegraph," 
the " Defiance," the " Royal Mail," and the " Union 
Night Coach," starting from all parts of London. 
The famous " Tally-ho Coach," too, between London 
and Canterbury, left town every afternoon, and did 
the fifty-four miles in the twinkling of an eye — that is 
to say (with greater particularity and less vague 
figure of speech) in five hours and a half ; while 
Stanbury and Rutley's fly-vans and wagons conveyed 
goods and i^assengers who could not afford the fares 
of the swifter coaches between the " George," 
Aldermanbury, and Dover at the rate of six miles 
an hour. 

Besides these methods of conveyance, numerous 
coaches, vans, omnibuses and carriers '-carts plied 
between the Borough and Chatham, Rochester and 



4 THE DOVER ROAD 

Strood ; or served the villages between London and 
Gravesend. Indeed, at this period, we find the crack 
coaches, the long-distance mails, starting from London 
city, leaving to the historic inns of Southwark only 
the goods- wagons, the short-stages, and the carriers '- 
carts. In 1837, also, you could vary the order of 
your going to Dover by taking boat from London 
to Gravesend, Whitstable, or Heme Bay, and at any 
of those places waiting for the coach. The voyage 
to Heme Bay took six hours, and the coach journey 
from thence to Dover occupied another four, the whole 
costing but ten shillings ; which, considering that you 
could get horribly sea-sick in the six hours between 
London and Heme Bay, and had four hours of jolting 
in which to recover, w as decidedly cheap, and not to be 
matched nowadays. 

The traveller of this time would probably select 
the " Express " from the " Golden Cross," because 
this was a convenient and central starting-point from 
which that excellent coach started at an hour when 
the day was well-aired. The coachman of that time 
was the ultimate product of the coaching age, and we 
who travel by train do not see anything like him. 
He owed something to heredity, for in those days son 
succeeded to father in all kinds of trades and profes- 
sions much more frequently than now ; for the rest 
of his somewhat alarming appearance he was indebted 
partly to the rigours of the weather and partly to the 
rum-and-milk for which he called at every tavern 
where the coach stopped — and at a good many where 
it had no business to stop at all. As a result of these 
several causes, he generally had cheeks like pulpit 
cushions, puffy, and of an apoplectic hue, and a plum- 
coloured nose with red spots on it ; he was, in fact, 
what Shakespeare would call a " purple-hued malt- 
worm," He shaved scrupulously. A rugged beaver 
hat with a curly brim and a coat of many capes would 
have identified him as a coachman, even if the evidence 
of his face had failed, and his talk, which consisted of 



LONDON BRIDGE 5 

" G^^-hups," biting repartees administered to passing 
Jehus, and contemptuous references to the railways, 
which were just beginning to be spoken of, was solely 
professional. 

Some of these latter-day coaches went direct from 
the West End, over Westminster Bridge, and so to 
the Old Kent Road, but others had to call at various 
inns on the way to the City, and so came over London 
Bridge in the approved fashion. 



Ill 

And the London Bridge by which they would cross 
in 1837 was a very different structure from that driven 
over by their forbears of twenty years previously. 

So late as 1831, Old London Bridge remained that, 
built in 1176, had thus for nearly seven hundred years 
borne the traffic to and from London, and had stood 
firmly centuries of storms and floods, and all the 
attacks of rebels from Norman to late Tudor times. 
Its career was closed on the 1st of August, 1831, when 
the new bridge, that had taken seven years in the 
building, was opened. The old bridge crossed the 
Thames at a point about a hundred feet to the eastward 
of the present one ; the city approach leading steeply 
down a narrow street by Monument Yard, and passing 
close under the projecting clock of Saint Magnus the 
Martyr. The view was eminently picturesque, with 
the many and irregular pointed arches of the bridge ; 
the rush of water in foaming cascades through the 
narrow openings ; the weathered stonework, and the 
curious old oil-lamps ; and the soaring Monument 
with the fantastic spire of St. Magnus, seen from 
Southwark, in the background. This was the aspect 
of Old London Bridge at any time between 1750, 
when the houses that had been for centuries standing 
on it were removed, and 1831, when the bridge itself 



6 



THE DOVER ROAD 



was destroyed with pick and shovel. In previous 
ages there were gates both at the London and the 
Southwark ends, and on these fortified gateways 




^ouf^ GaTeiJj-. 



Old Lon^n "^r'l (^e 



were stuck the heads of many traitors to the State 
and martyrs to reUgious opinions. The heads of 
Sir Wilham Wallace, Jack Cade, Bishop) Fisher of 
Rochester, Sir Thomas More, and of many another, 
were once to be seen here ; and in Queen Elizabeth's 
time, when John Visschcr made a drawing of London 



BRIDGE FOOT 7 

Bridge, so maii}^ were the rotting skulls that the 
SoutliAvark gate-house wore not so much the appearance 
of an entry into the capital of a civilised kingdom 
as that of a doorwa}^ to some Giant Blunderbore's 
bloodstained castle. 

" Bridge Foot " was the name of the Southwark 




THE " OEOEGE.' 



end of London Bridge. It was a narrow lane leading 
to Southwark High Street, paved with knobbly stones 
and walled in with tall houses. Bridge Foot is a thing 
of the past, and London Bridge Station stands on the 
site of it. " High Street, Borough," too, is very 
different from not only meditcval days, but even 
from coaching times. The many old inns that used 
to front toward the street, dating their prosperity 



8 THE DOVER ROAD 

back to the twelfth century, and their fabric to some 
time subsequently to the fire of 1676, are nearly all 
either utterly demolished, or are put to use as railway 
receiving offices. The "Queen's Head" is gone; the 
" George," most interesting of all that remain here, 
is threatened ; the " Spur " is left, little changed ; 
the " Half Moon " is still the house for a good chop 
or steak and a tankard of ale ; but the " White Hart," 
where is it ? Where the " Tabard," the " King's 
Head," the " Catherine Wheel," the " Boar's Head," 
the " Old Pick my Toe," or the " Three Widows " ? 
In vain will the curious who pay pilgrimage to 
Southwark seek them. There still are many cavernous 
doorways, stone-flagged passages, and great court- 
yards ; but nothing more romantic than railway vans 
is to be seen in the most of them, and the yard Avhere 
Sam Weller w^as first introduced to an admiring public 
is quite gone. 

The most romantically named of the Southwark 
inns now left is undoubtedly the " Blue Eyed Maid," 
so named, possibly, in connection with Tamplin's 
" Blue Eyed Maid " coach that used to run between 
Southw^ark and Rochester in the twenties. The 
building, though, does not share the romanticism 
of its name. Near it, let into the seventeenth-century 
brick frontage of No. 71, High Street, is the old sign 
of the " Hare and Sun," the trade-mark of Nicholas 
Hare ; and this, together with the stone half-moon 
sign in the yard of the " Half Moon Inn," is the sole 
relic of the many devices that once decorated the street. 
The hop trade has taken almost undivided possession 
of the place nowadays. The Hop Exchange is over 
the way, and hop-factors are as frequently to be 
met with here as diamond-merchants in Hatton 
Garden ; and with their coming the old-fashioned 
appearance of Southwark High Street is gone. 

Even when Hogarth painted his " Southwark Fair," 
in 1733, the street was suburban, and in the distance, 
seen betw^een the crowds gathered round old St. 



THE TELEGRAPH TOWER 9 

George's Church, are the hills and dales of Kent. 
The church was pulled down in the following year, 
and the present building put up in its place. The 
fair was suppressed in 1762. 

At that time, Kent Street was the only way to 
the Dover Road, and, even then, the dirt and over- 
crowding in that notorious thoroughfare were 
phenomenal. Englishmen were ashamed of this 
disgraceful entrance into London, and one Avhose duty 
lay in bringing a representative foreigner from Dover 
to London craftily contrived that he should enter the 
Metropolis at night, when the dirty tenements of 
Kent Street, by which their carriage would pass, 
would be hidden in darkness. When Newington 
Causeway was made, and direct access gained to the 
Old Kent Road, the horrors of Kent Street were no 
longer to be braved by travellers. The street is here 
still, but somewhat civilised, and now called " Tabard 
Street " ; but to " give a bit of Kent Street " is yet 
understood to mean language for which Billingsgate 
has also been long renowned. 

A singular structure standing in Tooley Street, and 
visible for a very great distance up or down the river, 
was the so-called " Telegraph Tower," which was 
burned down in the great fire of August, 1843. It had 
at one time been a shot-tower, and had always com- 
pletely dwarfed its next-door neighbour, St. Olave's 
Church. It was very ugly, and so its loss was a 
distinct gain ; but with its disappearance went all 
recollection of the old system of signalling that had 
no rival before the electric telegraph was introduced 
in 1838. 

This system was introduced in 1795, at the suggestion 
of the Rev. Lord George Murray, afterwards Bishop of 
Saint David's. He proposed to the Admiralty to 
erect signal-posts or towers on the heights between 
London and the coast, and upon experiments being 
made, it was found easily practicable to send messages 
in this way to our ships in the Downs. That year. 



10 



THE DOVER ROAD 



then, witnessed the estabhshment of a hne of telegraph- 
towers between the Admiralty and Deal, with a brancli 




OLD TELEGRAPH TO WEE, TOOLE Y STREET. 

to Sheerness, The original apparatus of revolving 
shutters was in use until 1816, when it was changetl 



SOUTHWARK 11 

for a. semaphore system, resembling very closel}^ that 
in use upon railways at the present day, the chief 
peculiarity beino- that, instead of only two movements 
of the semaphore arms, each one could be made to 
assume six different positions. Some old prints of 
the Admiralty buildings in Whitehall show a telegraph- 
station of this kind upon the roof, with the little 
wooden cabin in which were stationed the men 
(generally four) whose duty it was to read through 
telescopes the signals from the nearest station, and to 
work the shutters or semaphores above their own. 
One of these stations has given the name of " Telegraph 
Hill " to that knoll at Hatcham, by New Cross, which 
was opened as a public park so recently as April, 1895. 
From hence was signalled news of Nelson and Trafalgar, 
of Wellington and Waterloo ; here worked the arms 
that carried orders from the Admiralty to the admirals 
in the Downs to sail east or west ; to proceed home or 
fare forth to foreign stations ; to summon Courts 
Martial, and to put the sentences of those stern 
drum-head tribunals into execution. 



IV 

The Southwark of Chaucer's time was a very different 
place. For one thing, it was a great deal smaller. 
The year in which his Canterbury Pilgrims were 
supposed to set out has generally been fixed at 1383, 
and at that time the whole country had only recently 
been smitten with three great pestilences, which 
had carried off nearly half the population of England. 
London numbered probably no more than thirty 
thousand inhabitants. Southwark was comparatively 
a village ; a village, too, not with the odious 
surroundings of later years, but a pleasant spot over 
the water from the City, where great prelates had 
their palaces, and whence a short walk of five minutes 



12 THE DOVER ROAD 

or so would bring you into the open country, and 
among the fragrant hedgerows of the Kent Road. 
No picture exists of Southwark as Chaucer saw it, 
but when an ingenious Dutchman — one Antony van 
der Wyngrerde — made a drawing of Southwark and 
London Bridge, in 1546, this historic part of the 
" Surrey side " was still distinctly rural. Orchards 
and pleasant gardens are seen clustering round 
St. George's Church, and stretching away to the site 
of the present Kent Street, and bosky woods flourished 
where the tall wharves of Bankside are crowded 
together. Where are those orchards, woods, and 
gardens now ? Where is Winchester House, the 
grand palace of the Bishops of Winchester, that 
looked upon the river ? Where its neighbour, 
Rochester House ? Where, too, is Suffolk House, the 
princely residence of the Dukes of Suffolk ? Gone, 
all of them, like the morning dew ; and the only 
recognisable object in Van Wyngrerde's drawing 
is the tower of St. Mary Overie's Church that still, 
as " St. Saviour's," rears its four pinnacles above the 
Southwark of to-day. 

The most famous of all the inns of Southwark was 
the " Tabard," famous not only as an ordinary house 
of good cheer, but as a hostelry immediately under 
the protection of the Church, whereto resorted many 
good folk bent on pilgrimage. The Abbot of Hyde 
Monastery at Winchester was the owner of the ground 
upon which the original " Tabard " was built, and he 
built here not only an inn (which it is to be supposed he 
let out) but also a guest-house for the brethren of Hyde, 
and all others of the clergy who resorted to London to 
wait on the Bishop of Winchester, whose grand palace 
stood close by. In 1307 did the Abbot of Hyde build 
the " Tabard," and Chaucer gave it immortality 
in 1383. At that time the landlord was the Harry 
Bailly of the " Canterbury Tales " ; a real person, 
probably an intimate friend of Chaucer's, and Chaucer's 
description of him is most likely to be a careful 



CHAUCER'S PILGRIMS 13 

]3ortraiture of the man, his appearance, his speech, and 
his ways of thought. 

He was a considerable person, this host. He was 
a Member of Parhament, and his name is an index 
of his importance, for Baihff of Southwark his ancestor, 
Henry Tite, or Martin, had been made in 1231, and 
himself held the position through so long a line of 
grandfathers and great-grandfathers that their name 
had become merged in that of his civic office. So 
Chaucer's description we know to be very truth, so 
far as his worth and position are concerned : — 

A seemly man uur hoste was withal 

For to have been a marshal in a hall. 

A large man was he, with eyen steep, 

A fairer burgess is there none in Chepe ; 

Bold of his speech, and wise, and well ytaught ; 

And of manhood lacked righte nought, 

Eke thereto he was right a merry man. 

This explains the host's sitting at supper with his 
guests, even with such gentlefolk as the knight and 
his son, the squire, and with the Lady Abbess. Thus 
is he able to take charge of and assume leadership 
over his party on the road to Canterbury, and to 
reprove or praise each and all, according to his mind. 

The " Tabard " is, of course, only a memory now, 
and, indeed, so often had it been patched and repaired, 
that but little of the original could have been standing 
when the great fire of Southwark, in 1676, swept 
away many of the old inns. But the "" Talbot," as it 
was called in later times, stood until 1870 on the 
site of the older building, and was itself so venerable 
that many good folks were used to believe it to have 
been the veritable house where those old-time pilgrims 
lay before setting out on their journey. 

To that shrine of St. Thomas crowds of pilgrims 
flocked from every part of the Christian world. Rich 
and poor, high and low alike, left court and camp, 
palace or hovel. The knight left his castle, the lady 
her bower ; the merchant his goods, the sailor his 
ship ; and the ploughman forsook his tillage to partake 



U THE DOVER ROAD 

in the blessings that radiated from Becket's resting- 
place in Canterbury Cathedral. From such varied 
ranks of society are Chaucer's pilgrims drawn. A knight 
whose manhood had been spent in battle at home or in 
Palestine is at their head. He had been present at the 
taking of Alexandria ; had fought with the Germans 
against Russia, and had campaigned in Granada 
against the Moors. Yet his is a meek and Christian-like 
deportment, and he is in truth a very perfect, gentle 
knight. With him is his son, the squire, a boy of 
twenty, who had already made one campaign against 
the French, and had borne himself well, both in battle 
and in the tourney. Love deprives him of his sleep, 
and for love he writes sonnets and attires himself in 
smart clothes, broidered over with flowers like a May 
meadow. In attendance on this love-lorn swain is a 
yeoman clad in Lincoln green and bristling with arms. 
Sword and buckler, a dagger in his belt, with bow and 
arrows complete his equipment. Following upon 
these comes firstly Madame Eglantine, a lady prioress 
whose noble birth is seen both in her appearance and 
in the nicety with which she eats and drinks. With a 
sweet, if rather nasal, tone she chants portions of the 
Liturgy, and speaks French by preference ; but it is 
the French, not of Paris, but of " Stratford-atte-Bow." 
So high-strung is her sensibility that she would weep 
if she was shown a mouse in a trap, or if her little dog 
was beaten with a stick. She wears — somewhat 
inconsistently, considering her religious profession — a 
brooch bearing the inscription. Amor vincit omnia. 

Next this dainty lady comes a fat monk of the 
Benedictine Order, whose shaven crown and red 
cheeks are as smooth as glass, and whose eyes shine 
like burning coals, both by reason of lust and good 
living. He is dressed in a fashion no holy monk 
should affect, for the sleeves of his robe are trimmed 
with the finest fur, and a golden love-knot pin holds 
his hood in place. Clearly ring the bells on his horse's 
bridle ; hare-hunting and a feast off a fat swan are 




THE "sruii" I.XX. 



CHAUCER'S PILGRIMS 17 

more to him than the rule of St. Benedict and all the 
holy books in his cell. Beside this disgrace to his 
religious 23rofession is a mendicant friar who is no whit 
better than his fellow, for he can sing tender songs to 
his harp, treats the country-folk in the taverns, and 
knows well how to please the women with timely gifts 
of needles and knives. Follow these a merchant and 
two learned men. Well does the merchant know the 
rate of exchange, and better still does he know how to 
secure his own interest. Not so the clerk of Oxenford, 
hollow-cheeked and lean, dressed in threadbare clothes 
and riding a bare-ribbed horse. As yet he is unbeneficed; 
but his books are his only joy. His fellow is a law 
Serjeant in good practice, and at his heels comes the 
Franklin, a representative of a very large class who held 
land of their own, but were not of gentle birth. 

A lower social stratum is represented by a haber- 
dasher, a carpenter, a weaver, a dj^er, and a tapster ; 
all of consideration in their own grade, and likely 
to become aldermen some day. As Avealthy as any 
is the miller, a big-bodied fellow, with a spade beard, 
red, like a fox, and as cunning. He well knows how 
to take a share of the corn his customers bring him to 
grind. He wears a white coat and a blue hood ; 
plays on the bagpipes, and tells stories fitted to make 
the young and innocent blush. The wife of Bath 
is every whit as indelicate. She has been married five 
times, and of love, says Chaucer, " she knew the olde 
dance." Therefore she is privileged. A shipman 
from Dartmouth has with him a bottle of Burgundy 
stolen from his captain's cabin, from which he thinks 
it no sin to drink when on pious pilgrimage. A doctor 
of physic, a cook, a poor parson, a ploughman, a reeve, 
or estate agent, a manciple, and two disgraceful 
characters — a summoner and a pardoner — make up 
the total of the company. The summoner has a fiery 
face, which nothing but abstinence from drink will 
assuage ; and the pardoner is totally without conscience 
or morals of any kind. He makes a good living by 



18 THE DOVER ROAD 

selling pardons from the Pope, and gets more by the 
sale of relics in one day than the parson can earn in 
two months. 

When these pilgrims rode forth on that April 
morning — nine and twenty of them — from the 
" Tabard," to seek Becket's shrine, they started from 
the ultimate suburb of London. Picture that, 
Londoners of to-day, who find streets unceasing until 
Blackheath is gained, and no true roadside country 
this side of Gravesend ! The thymy air then blew in 
at the casements of the many inns of Southwark, and 
the views thence extended over fields and meadows 
where countless chimneys now pollute the sky. Some 
way down the Kent Road ran a little stream across the 
highway — " Saint Thomas a Watering " the ford was 
called, and here the pilgrims made their first halt — 

And forth we riden a litel more than pas, 
Unto the watering of Saint Thomas, 
And then our host began his hors arrest. 

Saint Thomas's Road marks the site of this stream, and 
the " Thomas a Becket " inn perpetuates a house of call 
for w^ayfarers ; but the fame of all these things — of 
the heretics, the cutpurses, the varied thieves and 
beggars who were executed here, with their quarters 
stuck on poles by the ford by way of warning, is lost in 
the latter-day commonplace of the Old Kent Road. 

Yet, at this place, which was something more than a 
mere water-splash, and the Golgotha of this road out of 
London, many met their end through being born a 
little in advance of their time. This was, and is yet, 
a criminal offence ; but it is no longer capital. If, for 
example, the unfortunate John Penry, AVelsh scholar 
and graduate alike of Oxford and Cambridge, religious 
reformer and prime mover in the " Martin Marprelate " 
tracts, directed against the Episcopal bench, had but 
been born fifty years later, he would have been 
honoured, instead of meeting here an ignominious end. 
He was hanged at St. Thomas a Watering, May 29, 1593, 



MILESTONES 19 

and was a victim to the vengeance of my lords spiritual 
in general, and of Archbishop Whitgift in particular. 



There are milestones on the Dover Road. Of course. 
Mr. F's aunt, in Little Dorr it, kncAV something about 
them, but not much. Her knoAvledge was general, not 
particular. We read in Chapter XXIII : — 

" A diversion was occasioned here by Mr. F.'s aunt, 
making the following inexorable and awful statement : 
' There's milestones on the Dover Road.' Clennam 
was disconcerted by this. ' Let him deny it if he can,' 
continued the venomous old lady. He could not deny 
it. There are milestones on the Dover Road." 

We will not grow excited about this incontrovertible 
fact. But not many people can say where the first 
milestone from London on this highway is to be found. 
Although, in fact, it is at the end of the first mile from 
the south side of London Bridge, no one in these days 
would suspect such a relic of surviving in London 
streets. It stands where the Old Kent Road begins, on 
the left-hand side as you go south, with an iron plate 
on it, proclaiming this to be "1 mile from London 
Bridge." The stone, greatly battered, stands pro- 
minently, on an elevated kerb. Just because we 
associate milestones with country roads and hedgerows, 
we look upon this, standing in that crowded urban 
region, as curious ; but when it was first set up, this 
was on the very verge of the country. 

We have heard much of the Old Kent Road in recent 
years. People who never so much as suspected the 
existence of it, grew familiar with its name, in the 
refrain of a comic song dealing with costermongers. 
The music-halls in 1891 reverberated with the name. 



20 THE DOVER ROAD 

But that is all done with. The Old Kent Road is not 
to be described in a phrase, nor thought of as the 
coster's paradise. It is in fact a road of many aspects. 

But how to catalogue the kinds of them that dwell 
here ? It cannot well be done. Shopkeepers of every 
kind and degree ; private residents of a more than 
average decent respectability ; publicans, the landlords 
of public-houses of a prodigious bigness ; family 
doctors — these are the more salient classes of the 
Old Kent Road. The coster ? you ask. Nay, but he 
does not " inhabit " here. He (shall I phrase it thus ?) 
pervades the road — the " road," bien entendu, not the 
houses that line the road — and it is only on Saturday 
nights, when frugal housewives fare forth, cheapening 
necessary provisions, that you who seek shall find him, 
with his booths and shallows, his barrows and crazy 
trestles ; his naphtha-lamps flaring gustily, his voice 
raucous, his goods striking both eye and nose in no 
uncertain manner. At such times the kennel becomes 
a busy mart, where you may purchase most articles of 
daily food at a price much below the current quotations 
in shops. Here a shilling possesses the purchasing 
power of a half-crown expended in the West End, and 
at this bon marche the artisan's table is fully furnished 
forth for a sum which would give the dwellers in 
mid-London pause. 

I have said that the Old Kent Road is eminently 
respectable ; and so it is. But it is also (the natural 
sequence of respectability) not less eminently dull. 
It is only when Saturday evening comes, with its street- 
market commencing as the light dies out of the sky, 
that this long road becomes rea'ly interesting. Then it 
takes on an aspect of mystery, and is filled with 
flickering lights and shadows from the yellow gas-lamps 
and the gusty naphtha-flares that illuminate the 
dealings of Mr. 'Enery 'AAvkins with his clients ; 
and I am quite sure that, if Rembrandt was living now, 
he would choose such a time and place as the best 
subject for a picture in all London. One spot in 



IN THE OLD KENT ROAD 21 

especial he would select. Taking a tramcar from the 
" Elephant and Castle," he would ask the conductor 
to set him down by the bridge that crosses the Grand 
Surrey Canal, where the great gasometers of the 
South London Gas Company rear themselves high in 





- ■ " r 


m^' 






1 '''*'^ 




■ ,^ s^. 






dm 


i 




^ 1 


■ 


i 




m 


■ 


p 



SATURDAY XIGHT IX THE OLD KEXT ROAD. 

air above mean houses and third-rate shops. Arrived 
here, he would select, as the best j^oint of view, the 
broad entrance of a large public-house, outside of 
which the omnibuses stop in their career between the 
Borough and New Cross ; and it is very likely that 
the thing which happened to me while sketching here 
would also befall him ; that is to say, some short-sighted 
or dull-witted old lady would probably dig him in the 
ribs with the ferrule of her umbrella, and say, " Young 



22 THE DOVER ROAD 

man, how long before your 'bus starts ? " And, after 
all, I suppose one must not be satirical at the expense 
of that very worthy person the British matron ; for, 
to a superficial glance, a sketch-block may be not 
unlike an omnibus way-bill ; and who but a mad 
impressionist would see sketchable material in an ugly 
gasometer ? And who other than a reckless Bohemian 
would be so far indifferent to public opinion as to sketch 
outside a gin-palace ? 

The Old Kent Road of from seventy to eighty 
years ago presented a very different aspect from that 
with which those are familiar who travel nowadays 
up and down its great length in tramcars. It was 
distinctly rural. The few houses that were to be 
seen here in coaching days were chiefly inns, with 
swinging signs creaking, and horse-troughs lining the 
roadside, and the " Kentish Drovers," that now wears 
much the same appearance as any other London public- 
house, was a veritable rustic house of call for country- 
men driving their sheep and cattle to London markets. 
" The Bricklayers' Arms " (a 'scutcheon, needless to 
say, unknown to heraldry), " The World Turned 
Upside Down," the " Thomas a Becket," and the 
" Golden Cross," at New Cross, were scarcely less 
rural. It was at the " Golden Cross " that Pitt and 
Dundas, overtaken on the road from Dover to London 
by bad weather, put up for the night, and drank seven 
bottles of port before they went to bed. 

Imagine, though, the condition of the roads, and 
locomotion upon them, when two Cabinet Ministers 
could think it not only convenient, but merely prudent, 
to halt for the night when so near London as New 
Cross ! The Londoner who can take 'bus, tram, or 
train, and reach the City in less than half-an-hour, 
can scarce picture the necessity which faced those 
distinguished travellers. 



DEPTFORD 23 



VI 

When the old coachmen had got through New Cross 
Gate, which stood where the " ^larquis of Granby " 
occupies the junction of the Deptford and Lewisham 
roads, they found themselves in the country, with 
Deptford, a busy but small and compact place, yet 
some distance ahead. Also, they had entered the 
county of Kent. Nowadays, it is difficult for the 
uninstructed to tell where New Cross ends or Deptford 
begins, for there is never a break in the houses all the 
way, while the street presents no attractions whatever ; 
and even though the " good view of part of the 
Greenwich Railway, the carriages of which may be 
seen in motion to and fro " (a view which the local 
guide-book, published in 1837, considered worthy a 
visit from London), remains to this day, together 
with several other railways to keep it company, one 
does not find crowds of visitors hanging on the delirious 
delights of the several New Cross stations. 

The Deptford of to-day is no place for the pilgrim. 
Instead of reminiscences of Kenilworth and Queen 
Elizabeth, of Drake and Peter the Great, it is rich 
in " stores " and " emporiums." A workhouse stands 
where Sayes Court afforded shelter under its roof, 
and amusement in its gardens, for the Czar ; the 
Trinity House of Deptford Strond has been removed 
to Tower Hill ; and perhaps the most remarkable 
thing in modern Deptford is the Foreign Cattle Market. 
And yet here Elizabeth knighted Francis Drake, 
in 1581, on that good ship the Golden Hind, in which 
he had '' compassed the world " ; and here, on a site 
now occupied by cattle and by business premises, was 
the greatest dockyard in England at the most inter- 
esting period of English naval history. 

It was at Deptford, they say, in 1593, that 
Christopher Marlowe, that bright particular star of 
poesy, was slain, while yet in his thirtieth year. AVe 



24 THE DOVER ROAD 

know too little of him, and no portraiture has come 
down to show us what manner of man this was who 
wrote divinely and lived (if we may believe the scribes) 
sottishly, after the manner, indeed, of the fraternity 
of his fellow-dramatists. It should seem, by some 
contemporary accounts, that he was killed by a rival 
in the affections of some saucy baggage ; but there 
were not wanting those who asserted that the poet 
was assassinated by some myrmidon of the Church, 
whose priests he lost no opportunity of reviling. To 
lend some colour to this, there remains a pamphlet, 
printed in 1618, entitled — what a title ! — " The 
Thunderbolt of God's Wrath Against Hard-hearted 
and Stiff-necked Sinners." It says, " We read of one 
Marlowe, a Cambridge Scholler, who was a poet and 
a filthy play-maker ; this wretch accounted that 
meeke servant of God, Moses, to be but a conjuror, 
and our Sweet Saviour to be but a seducer and deceiver 
of the people. But harken, ye brain-sicke and 
prophane poets and players, that bewitch idle cares 
with foolish vanities, what fell upon this prophane 
wretch ; having a quarrell against one whom he met 
in the street in London, and would have stab'd him ; 
but the partie perceiving his villany prevented him 
with catching his hands, and turning his own dagger 
into his braines ; and so blaspheming and cursing he 
yeelded up his stinking breath. Marke this, ye 
players that live by making fools laugh at sinne and 
wickedness." 



VII 

Leaving " dirty Deptford," that being the contu- 
melious conjuction by which the place has generally 
been known, any time these last hundred years or so 
(and far be it from me to deprive any place of its 
well-merited title, whether good or ill), the road 
ascends steeply to Blackheath, past some fine old 



BLACKHEATH 25 

mansions which, having been built in the days of 
Queen Anne and the earher Georges, and having long 
housed the aristocracy who at one time frequented 
the place, became afterwards the homes of rich City 
merchants. Finally, when the " schools for young 
ladies " are gone which now occupy them, and give 
so distinct a scholastic air to this suburb, they will 
doubtless disappear amid a cloud of dust and the 
clinking of trowels, while on their sites will rise the 
unchanging pattern of suburban shops ! 

Blackheath is one of the finest suburbs of London ; 
a town girt round with many particularly beautiful 
outskirts. Strange to say, it has not been spoiled, 
and though thickly surrounded with hovises, remains 
as breezy and healthful as ever ; perhaps, indeed, since 
highwayman and footpad have disappeared, and now 
that duels are unknown, Blackheath may be regarded 
as even more healthy a spot than it was a hundred 
years ago. 

The air which gave Bleak Heath its original name, 
and nipped the ears and made red the noses of the 
" outsides " who journeyed across it on their way to 
Dover in the winter months, is healthful and bracing, 
and is not so bleak as balmy in the days of June, 
when the sun shines brilliantly, and makes a generous 
heat to radiate from the old mellow brick wall of 
Greenwich Park that skirts the heath on its northern 
side. Outside the gate of that steepest of all parks 
stood Montagu House, whence the Earl of Chesterfield 
wrote those famous letters to his son — letters whose 
precepts, if carefully and consistently followed, would 
have infallibly sent their recipient to the Devil. 
Montagu House is gone now, pulled down long ago, 
and the site where the worldly Dormer wrote, pointing 
out to his son the way to perdition, is now a part 
of the Heath. Gone, too, is the garden where the 
phenomenally vulgar and undignified Princess Caroline 
of Wales, who lived here from 1797 to 1814, might 
have been seen, and ivas seen one morning, sitting in 



26 



THE DOVER ROAD 



the grounds in a gorgeous dress, looped up to the 
knees, to show the stars with which her petticoats 
were spangled : with silver wings on her shoulders, 
and drinking from a peAvter pot of porter, after the 
use and wont, between the acts, of the pantomime 
fairies of Drury Lane. 

With this Princesse au cafe chantant disappears 
the last vestige of royalty hereabouts, and Greenwich, 
lying down beyond the Park, has only dim memories 
of Henry the Eighth, and Queen Elizabeth, who was 
born in the palace of Placentia beside the Thames. 




GREEXWICH OBSERVATOrvY 



If you venture into the Park, and stand upon 
Observatory Hill, you can at once glimpse London and 
gain an idea of how plebeian Greenwich has become. 
But its history is not yet done, and on this ver}^ spot, 
in 1893, a chapter of it was made by a foreign Anarchist 
who blew himself up in the making ; and when the 
park keepers came and gleaned little pieces of him from 



ON THE HEATH 27 

the November boughs, the incident shaped more 
picturesquely than any other happening on this spot 
that I can think of. 

As for Blackhcath, it seems that when, in older 
days, people had assignations on the Dover Road, they 
generally selected this place for the purpose ; whether 
they were kings and emperors that met ; or ambas- 
sadors, archbishops, rebels, or rival pretenders to the 
crown, they each and all came here to shake hands 
and interchange courtesies, or to speak with their 
enemies in the gate. It is very impressive to find 
Blackhcath thus and so frequently honoured by the 
great ones of the earth ; but it is also not a little 
embarrassing to the historian who wants to be getting 
along down the road, and j^et desires to tell of all the 
pageants that here befell, and how the high contending 
parties variously saluted or sliced one another, as the 
case might be. Indeed, to write the history of Black- 
heath would be to despair of ever seeing JDover, and 
so, instead of beginning with Aulus Plautius, or any of 
the masterful Roman generals who doubtless had 
something to say to those cerulean Britons on this 
spot, I will skip the centuries, and only note the more 
outstanding and interesting occasions on which the 
heath has figured largely. Hie we then from the first 
to the fourteenth century, when, in 1381, Wat, the 
Tiler of Dartford, encamped here as leader of a hundred 
thousand insurgents. The fount and origin of this 
famous rebellion has ever been popularly sought in the 
historic incident of Dartford, in which the tax- 
gatherer lost his life ; but a discontent had long 
been smouldering among the people, which needed 
only an eloquent happening of this nature to be 
fanned into a flame. The Poll Tax was one of the 
greatest grievances of the time, and the high rent 
of land was even more burdensome. The price of 
land might, perhaps, have been borne with, for it 
was of gradual growth, and regulated more or less 
by the law of su))i)]y and demand, but the Poll Tax 



28 THE DOVER ROAD 

was a new burden, and one exacted harshly from the 
people by the nobles among whom the Government 
had farmed it. Then, too, the state of serfdom in 
which the villeins existed was odious to them at 
this lapse of time, when men began to aspire to some- 
thing better than to be the mere pawns of kings 
and nobles, sent to fight for feudalism on foreign 
battlefields, or in fratricidal conflicts at home. The 
days were drawing to a close when it was possible 
for kings to issue prescriptions for the seizing of 
artisans to be set to work on the building of royal 
palaces and castles ; documents couched in this wise : 
'' To our trusty and well-beloved Richard, Earl of 
Essex : Know ye that it is our pleasure that you do 
take and seize as many masons, carpenters, braziers, 
and all kinds of artificers necessary to the reparation 
of our Castle of Windsor, and that this shall be your 
warrant for detaining them so long as may be necessary 
to the completion of the work." 

With grievances old and new, it wanted but little 
to set the home counties in revolt, and so we find 
the cause of the Dartford tiler to have been Avarml}^ 
taken up, not only throughout his native Kent, 
but also, across the river, in Essex. The tiler's 
neighbours swore they would protect him from 
punishment, and, marching to Maidstone, appointed 
him leader of the commons in Kent. The Canterbury 
citizens, less enthusiastic, were overawed by the 
number of the rebels, and several of them slain ; five 
hundred joining in the march to London, while a 
dissolute itinerant priest, that famous demagogue 
John Ball, was enlarged from prison and appointed 
preacher to the throng, rousing them to iury by the 
rough eloquence and apt illustration with which he 
enlarged upon his text — 

When Adam delved, and Eve span, 
Who was then the gentleman ? 

From Blackheath to London marched this great 



REBELS 29 

rabble. The king, with his cousin Henry, Earl of 
Derby ; the xlrchbishop of Canterbury, and a hundred 
knights and sergeants were retired for safety to the 
Tower, whence they issued by boat to receive the 
petitions of the insurgents. Ten thousand of them 
waited at Rotherhithe, and by their fierce yells and 
threatening appearance so terrified the king's attend- 
ants that, instead of permitting him to land, they took 
advantage of the tide, and returned. This behaviour 
disappointed Tyler, who saw no hope of concessions 
from the king's advisers. He and his men burst into 
London, and, joined by the discontented host from 
Essex and Hertfordshire, under the leadership of one 
John Rakestraw (who has come down to us through the 
ages as Jack Straw, and whose camping-ground on 
Hampstead Heath bears to this da}^ the old inn known 
as " Jack Straw's Castle "), plundered the town, 
burning the Palace of the Savoy and all the buildings 
and records of the Temple. Fear eventually led the 
Court party to grant the four chief demands of the 
people ; the abolition of slavery ; the reduction of the 
rent of land to fourpence an acre ; free liberty of buying 
and selling in all fairs and markets ; and a general 
pardon for past offences. Had Tyler and Rakestraw 
been content with these concessions, it is probable 
that all would have been well ; but their ambition 
had grown with success, and they trusted to further 
violence for greater advantage. Rushing into the 
Tower at the head of four hundred men, they murdered 
there the Archbishop of Canterbury and five others, 
and, retaining no less than twenty thousand followers 
in the City, intercepted the king as he rode out the 
following morning attended onl}^ by sixty horsemen. 
With boorish insolence, Tyler lay hold of the king's 
bridle, when AValworth, Lord Mayor of London, 
stabbed him in the throat. Falling from his horse, 
the rebel leader was despatched by an esquire. The 
courage and tact of the young king are historical, 
and the way in which he quelled the hostility of the 



30 THE DOVER ROAD 

insurgents, and drew their sympathies to himself, is 
well known ; but the revocation of the charters of 
emancipation was a piece of faithlessness Avhich 
makes the inquirer doubtful of the sincerity in which 
they were first granted, and the less inclined to blame 
Wat the Tiler for his excesses. 

Thus tamely ended this, at one time, most formidable 
rebellion. The south gateway of London Bridge 
received its leader's head, ancl the lieges who fared 
by that frowning archway, together with those others 
who felt no loyalty, were invited to look upon the 
head of a traitor. But some day Wat the Tiler of 
Dartford will have his monument, and, truly, there 
are few figures in our history that so well deserve 
one, for he was one of the first to stir a hand for the 
English people against the exactions of a largely alien 
nobility. 

Blackheath Avitnessed no other Avarlike gathering 
for the matter of seventy years ; but it was in the 
meanwhile the scene of many peaceful displays. 



VIII 

And here (says Stowe) came, in 1415, the Lord 
Mayor and Aldermen of London, with four hundred 
citizens in scarlet, and with white and red hoods, to 
receive Henry the Fifth on his return from the victories 
in France, of which that of Agincourt was the greatest. 
" The gates and streets of the City were garnished 
and apparelled with precious cloths of arras, containing 
the history, triumphs, and princely acts of the kings of 
England, his progenitors, which was done to the end 
that the king might understand what remembrance the 
people would hand to their posterity of these his great 
victories and triumphs. The conduits in the City ran 
none other but goocl sweet wines, and that abundantly. 
There were also made in the streets many towers and 
stages, richly adorned, and on the height of them sat 



CARDINAL WOLSEY 31 

small children, apparelled in semblance of angels, with 
sweet-tuned voices, singing praises and lauds unto God : 
for the victorious king would not suffer ditties to be 
made and sung of his history, for that he would wholly 
have the praise given unto God ; neither would he 
suffer to be carried before him, nor showed unto the 
l^eople, his helmet, whereupon his crown of gold was 
broke and deposed in the field by the violence of the 
enemy, and great strokes he had recei\'ed, nor his 
other armour that in that cruel battle Avas so sore 
broke." 

But perhaps the most remarkable meeting on 
Blackheath was that which assembled to escort the 
cardinars hat, designed for Wolsey. When that 
particularly haughty prelate learnt that the insignia 
of his promotion was on its way from Rome in charge 
only of an ordinary messenger, he deemed it essential 
to his importance that a more imposing method of 
conveyance should be provided. Previoush% therefore, 
to the arrival of the Pope's messenger on our shores, 
Wolsey caused him to be met and decked out with 
robes and trappings suitable to so important an 
occasion. That glorified pursuivant of Papal authority 
was, therefore, brought along the road from Dover to 
Blackheath with the greatest show of deference and 
consideration, and here, on this waste, the hat was 
met by great numbers of the clergy and nobility, who 
conducted it to London and to Westminster Abbey 
in great triumph. 

Wolsey's hat, however, comes out of chronological 
sequence. Let us then j^ut back the clock of history 
again to the year 1450, when Jack Cade's rebellion 
peopled Blackheath with a menacing host. These 
were the early days of the quarrels of the rival Roses. 
England was losing — whether by bad generalship or 
by trend of unavoidable circumstances it matters not 
— the provinces of France won by Henry the Fifth 
whose feeble son now reigned ; the kinghead around 
whose ill-balanced kingship raged the quarrels and 



32 THE DOVER ROAD 

family jealousies of the Dukes of York, Suffolk, 
Somerset, and Buckingham. The king was unpopular 
with half his subjects, and all of them raged with 
wounded pride and grief at the loss of France. The 
name of Mortimer was a power in the land, and the 
head of that ancient family Avas the Duke of York, 
who had probably the greatest following of feudatory 
tenants in England. To take advantage both of the 
prevailing discontent and of the Mortimer prestige 
came Jack Cade, an Irish adventurer, at the head of 
twenty thousand followers, and encamped on Black- 
heath. Cade was undoubtedly the Duke of York's 
catspaw, but his sudden success in gaining adherents 
is something of a mystery ; for, although he proclaimed 
himself a cousin of the duke, he was an obviously 
ignorant clown, a fact seized upon by Shakespeare 
with grand effect in Henry VI, part i, act 4, where he 
makes Cade's companions to be Dick the Butcher, 
Smith the Weaver, and others of a like humble estate, 
whose asides upon Cade's proclaiming himself a 
Mortimer and his wife a descendant of the Lacies are 
very amusing. " My father was a Mortimer," says 
Cade, to which Dick the Butcher rejoins, whispering 
behind his hand, that " he was an honest man, and 
a good bricklayer ; " while as to his wife's descent 
from the Lacies, he remarks that " she was, indeed, 
a pedlar's daughter, and sold many laces " — a punning 
speech that, were it the work of a modern dramatist, 
would be received with a howl of execration. 

Cade retired from Blackheath to Sevenoaks on an 
equal force being sent to oppose him, but there 
turned at bay n\)o\\ his pursuers, and the Royal army 
dispersed, leaving London at the mercy of this rabble- 
ment. There the fickle mob wavered and Cade fled, 
presently to suffer the fate that befell so many in 
those bloody days. 

The last occasion on which Blackheath has figured 
largely was really romantic. The date 1660, the 
occasion the Restoration of His Gracious Majesty 



THE RESTORATION 33 

King Charles the Second to the throne of his ancestors. 
Romantic it was because of the home-coming of the 
interesting exile who had fled, years before, for his 
life ; and was now come, greatly daring, to meet, not 
only his loyal citizen-subjects here, but to stand 
again face to face with the veteran regiments of the 
army which had finally crushed the Royalist hopes 
at Worcester Fight. No one knew how they would 
behave. Commanded by Loyalist officers, they were 
drawn up here to meet the king, but, amid all the 
rejoicings of the people, that Puritan soldiery looked 
on, scowling, and not all the personal charm of the 
king, nor the enthusiasm of the people, could chase 
away the sadness with which they looked upon the 
undoing of that work in which they had gained their 
scars. Charles and his brothers of York and Gloucester 
moved about, unarmed, graciously acknowledging the 
shouts of " Long live King Charles ! " and receiving 
old supporters who saw this glorious Restoration with 
tears of joy running down their cheeks ; and their gay 
demeanour showed their courage, for little was wanting 
to make the Ironsides declare for the Commonwealth, 
and, spurring their horses, change this scene of rejoicing 
to one of blood and dismay. But the moments of 
suspense were safely passed ; the king pressed on to 
London, and the Restoration was accomplished. It is 
in the pleasant pages of Woodstock that one reads how 
the old cavalier. Sir Henry Lee, of Ditchley, " having a 
complacent smile on his face and a tear swelling to his 
eye, as he saw the banners wa^'e on in interminable 
succession," came here to witness the return of his 
sovereign. Here, too, came Colonel Everard, and xA.lice, 
his wife ; Joceline Joliffe, who wielded quarterstaff so 
well, and with him Mistress Joceline ; Wildrake, from 
Squattlesea-mere, and Beavis, old and feeble, a shadow 
of the great wolf-hound he had been. To this little 
company came Charles, and, dismounting, asked for 
the old knight's blessing, who, ha\'ing witnessed this 
day, was content to die. 



34 THE DOVER ROAD 

And England was " merry England " again. The 
maypole reappeared upon the village green, ginger 
was hot i' the mouth once more, cakes and ale dis- 
appeared down hungry and thirsty throats, and none 
declared eating and drinking to be carnal sins ; folks 
sang songs and danced where had been only the 
singing of psalms in nasal tones and walking circum- 
spectly ; close-cropped polls grew love-locks again, 
and sad raiment gave place to the revived glories of 
ancient doublet and hose whose colours mocked the 
sun for splendour. For ten years had the people 
gone in a penitential gait that allowed neither gaiety 
nor enjoyment of any kind to pass unreproved, and 
now that all England was rejoicing that a pharisaical 
Puritanism had been overthrown, what wonder that 
young men and maidens who were too young to 
recollect the old England that existed before the 
Commonwealth plunged now into the wildest excesses, 
aided and abetted by old and middle-aged alike. 
The pendulum had swung back, and from whining 
religiosity the people turned to the extreme of 
licentiousness. 

And so at last to leave the historic aspect of Black- 
heath, which I had begun to fear would detain me 
until a volume had been made of it. Leaving the 
heath by the Dover Road, which still follows the old 
Watling Street, the way is bordered by apparently 
endless rows of villas, and the outskirts of Kidbrook 
and Charlton village are passed before one comes to 
where the fields, bordered by hedgerows, first come in 
sight, and even these are disfigured by great boards, 
offering land to be let for building-plots. This is, 
indeed, a neighbourhood where the incautious stranger 
takes a villa overlooking meadows, for the sake of the 
view, and finds, on waking up one fine morning, the 
builders putting in the foundations of a new house 
which will eventually hide his prospect ; or where, 
having taken a month's holiday, he returns, to find a 
new street round the corner, with a brand new public- 



SHOOTER'S HILL 35 

house, and a piano-organ playing the latest comic 
song, where {eheii, fugaces .') meads and orchards 
gladdened his eyes a few short weeks before. 



IX 

As one proceeds through Charlton village, j^ast an 
oddly-named public-house, " The Sun in the Sands," 
and the uncharted wilderness of Kidbrook, Shooter's 
Hill comes into view, and the long line of " villas " ends. 
Just beyond the seventh milestone from London is 
another little public-house, the " Fox under the Hill," 
followed shortly by the " Earl of Moira," overlooked 
by the great buildings of the new Fever Hospital 
which the London County Council has set up here, to 
the disgust of all the dwellers round about. Next to 
this come the great dismal buildings of the Military 
Hospital, where soldier-invalids crawl about the 
courtyards, or, happily convalescent, lean over the 
balconies, smoking and chatting the hours away. 
Funerals go frequently hence, for here are always many 
poor fellows struggling with death, invalided home 
from the cruel heats of India, and many are the sad 
little processions that go with slow step and rumbling 
of gun-carriages to the God's Acres of East Wickham 
and Plumstead. 

But up among the young oak coppices, the lush 
grass, and the perennial springs of Shooter's Hill, all is 
peaceful and pleasant. You can hear the Woolwich 
bugles sing softly through the summer air ; birds 
twitter overhead, the robustious crowings of arrogant 
cocks, the sharp ring of jerry-builders' trowels comes 
up from below, the winds whisper among the oaks and 
rustle like the frou-frou of silk through the foliage of 
the silver-beeches — ^while London toils and moils 
beyond. Distant smoke drives before the wind in 
earnest of those metropolitan labours, and kindly 



36 THE DOVER ROAD 

obscures many vulgar details ; but if you cannot see 
Jerusalem or Madagascar from here, nor even Saint 
Paul's, you can at least view that most commanding 
object in the landscape near by, Beckton Gasworks, and 
on another quarter of the horizon shines the Crystal 
Palace, glittering afar off like a City of the Blest, 
which indeed it is not, nor anything like it. Directly 
in front, the sky-line is formed by the elevated table- 
land of Blackheath, while in mid-distance the few 
remaining fields of Charlton are seen to be making 
a gallant stand before the advances of villadom. 

Shooter's Hill was not always a place whereon one 
could rest in safety. Indeed, it bore for long years 
a particularly bad name as being the lurking-place of 
ferocious footpads, cutpurses, highwaymen, cut-throats, 
and gentry of allied professions who rushed out from 
these leafy coverts and took liberal toll from wayfarers. 
Six men were hanged hereabouts, in times not so very 
remote, for robbery with murder upon the highway ; 
the remains of four of them decorated the summit of 
the hill, while two others swung gracefully from 
gibbets beside the Eltham Road. The " Bull " inn, 
standing at the top of the hill, was in coaching days 
the first post-house at which travellers stopped and 
changed horses on their way from London to Dover. 
The " Bull " has been rebuilt in recent years, but 
tradition says (and tradition is not always such a liar 
as some folks would have us believe) that Dick Turpin 
frequented the road, and that it was at this old house 
he held the landlady over the fire in order to make her 
confess where she had hoarded her money. The 
incident borrows a certain picturesqueness from lapse 
of time, but, on the wiiole, it is not to be regretted that 
the days of barbecued landladies are past. 

Our old friend Pepys has something to say of what 
he did or what was done to him on Shooter's Hill, 
under date of April 11, 1661 ; but it was, at any rate, 
not a happening of any great note, and moreover, 
Mr. Pepys' prattle sometimes becomes tiresome, and 



HIGHWAYMEN 37 

so we will pass him by for once in a way. His fellow 
diarist, Evelyn, was here in 1699, for he writes, under 
August, " I drank the Shooter's Hill waters." A very 
much more important person. Queen Anne, to wit 
(who, alas ! is dead), is also said to have partaken of the 
mineral spring which made Shooter's Hill a minor spa 
long years ago. The spring is still here, and it is this 
which makes the summit of Shooter's Hill so graciously 
green and refreshing. People no longer come to drink 
the waters, but he who thirsts by the wayside and sports 
the blue ribbon, may, an he please, instead of calling 
at the " Bull," or the " Red Lion," across the road, 
quench his thirst at a drinking-fountain, which is 
something between a lich-gate and a Swiss chalet, 
erected here in recent years. 

So long ago as 1767 a project was set afoot for 
building a town on the summit of Shooter's Hill, 
but it came to nothing, which is not at all strange 
when one considers how constantly the dwellers there 
would have been obliged to run the gauntlet of the 
gentlemen whom Americans happily call " road- 
agents." And here is a sample of what would happen 
now and again, taken, not from the romantic pages of 
" Don Juan," nor from Dickens' " Tale of Two Cities," 
but from the sober and truthful columns of a London 
paper, under date of 1773. " On Sunday night," we 
read, " about ten o'clock. Colonel Craige and his 
servant were attacked near Shooter's Hill by two 
highwajauen, well mounted, who, on the colonel's 
declaring he would not be robbed, immediatel}^ fired 
and shot the servant's horse in the shoulder. On this 
the footman discharged a pistol, and the assailants 
rode off with great precipitation." That they rode off 
^nth nothing else shows how effectually the colonel and 
his servant, by firmly grasping the nettle danger, 
plucked the flower safety. 

It was by similarly bold conduct that Don Juan 
put to flight no fewer than four assailants on this 
very spot. Arrived thus far from Dover, he had 



38 THE DOVER ROAD 

alighted, and was meditatively pacing along the road 

behind his carriage when But there ! It had 

best be read in Byron's verse, and let no one cry out 
upon me for quoting " Don Juan," and say the thing 
is nothing new, lest I, in turn, call fie upon him for an 
undue acquaintance with that " wicked " poem — 

. . . Juan now was borne, 
Just as the day began to wane and darken, 

O'er the high hill which looks, with pride or scorn, 
Toward the great city. Ye who have a spark in 

Your veins of Cockney spirit, smile or mourn, 
According as you tako things well or ill ; 
Bold Britons, we are now on Shooter's Hill ! 



A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping 

Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye 
Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping 

In sight, then lost amidst the forestry 
Of masts ; a wilderness of steeples peeping 

On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy ; 
A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown 
On a fool's head — and there is London Town ! 



Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill : 

Sunset the time, the place the same declivity 

Which looks along that vale of good and ill 
Where London streets ferment in full activity ; 

While everything around was calm and still, 

Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he 

Heard ; and that bee like, bubbling, busy hum 

Of cities, that boil over with their scum. 

i say Don Juan, wrapt in contemplation, 

Walk'd on behind his carriage, o'er the summit, 

And lost in wonder of so great a nation. 

Gave way to it, since he could not o'ercome it. 

" And here," he cried, " is Freedom's chosen station ; 
Here peals the people's voice, nor can entomb it 

Racks, prisons, inquisitions ; resurrection 

Awaits it, each new meeting or election. 

" Here are chaste wives, pure lives ; here people pay 
But what they please ; and, if that things be dear, 

'Tis only that they love to throw away 

Their cash, to show how much they have a year. 

Here laws are all inviolate ; none lay 

Traps for the traveller ; every highway's clear : 

Here " — here he was interrupted by a knife. 

With, — " Damn your eyes ! Your money or your life ! 

These freeborn sounds proceeded from four pads. 
In ambush laid, who had perceived him loiter 

Behind his carriage ; and, like handy lads, 
Had seized the lucky hour to reconnoitre, 

In which the heedless gentleman who gads 
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter. 

May find himself, within that isle of riches, 

Exposed to lose his life as well as breeches. 



DON JUAN 39 

Juan did not understand a word 

Of English, save their shibboleth, " God damn ! " 
And even that he had so rarely heard, 

He sometimes thought 'twas only their " Salaam," 
Or " God be with you ! " and 'f.s not absurd 

To think so ; for, half English as I am 
(To my misfortune), never can I say 

r heard them wish " God with you," save that way. 

But if he failed to understand their speech, he 
interpreted their actions accurately enough, and, 
drawing a pocket-pistol, shot the foremost in the 
stomach, who, writhing in agony on the ground, and 
unable to discriminate between Continental nation- 
alities, called out that " the bloody Frenchman " had 
killed him. His three companions did not wait to 
discover that it was not a Frenchman, but a Spaniard. 
No, they promptly ran away, and left their fellow to 
die, which he presently did, and Don Juan, after an 
interview with the coroner, proceeded on his road in 
wonderment. " Perhaps," he thought, " it is the 
country's wont to welcome foreigners in this way." 

Shooter's Hill is pictured excellently well in A Tale of 
Tzvo Cities ; the time, " a Friday night, late in 
November, in the year of our Lord one thousand 
seven hundred and seventy-five," the occasion the 
passing of the Dover Mail. The coachman was 
" laying on " to the horses like another Macduff, and 
the near leader of the tired team was shaking its head 
and everything upon it, as though denying that the 
coach could be got up the hill at all ; while the 
passengers, having been turned out to walk up the 
road and case the horses, splashed miserably in the 
slush. The time was " ten minutes, good, past 
eleven," and the coachman had but just finished 
addressing the horses in such strange exclamations as 
" Tst ! Yah ! Get on with you ! ^ My blood ! " and 
other picturesque, not to say lurid, phrases, when 
sounds were heard along the highway. Sounds of 
any sort on the road could not at this hour be aught 
than ominous, and so the passengers, who w^re just 
upon the point of re-entering the coach, shivered and 



40 THE DOVER ROAD 

wondered if their purses and watches were quite safe 
which were lying snugly perdu in their boots. 

" Tst ! Joe ! " calls the coachman, from his box, 
warningly to the guard. 

" What do you say, Tom ? " 

" I say a horse at a canter coming up," replies Tom. 

" I say a horse at a gallop, Tom," rejoins the guard, 
entrenching himself behind his seat, and cocking his 
blunderbuss, calling out to the passengers at the same 
time, " Gentlemen, in the King's name, all of you ! " 

The mail stopped. The hearts of the passengers 
within thumped audibly, and if one could not see how 
they blenched, it was only owing to the obscurity 
of the mildewy inside of the old Mail. There they sat, 
in anxious expectancy, amid the disagreeable smell 
arising from the damp and dirty straw, and the relief 
they experienced when it was not a highwayman 
who rode up to them, but only a messenger for 
Mr. Jarvis Lorry, who sat shivering among the rest, 
may (in the words of a certain class of novelists) 
'' be better imagined than described." 

There is but one criticism I have to make cf this ; 
but it is a serious point. There was no Dover Mail 
coach in 1775, for the earliest of all mail coaches, that 
between Bristol and London, was not established 
before 1784. The mails until then were carried by 
post-boys on horse-back. 

Of Severndroog Castle, built on the crest of Shooter's 
Hill during the last century, I shall say nothing, 
because, for one thing, it is of little interest, and, 
for another, whatever has to be said about it belongs 
to the province of the Guide Books, upon whose 
territory I do not propose to infringe. I want to 
give a modicum of information with the maximum 
of amusement, with which declaration of policy I will 
proceed along the road to Dover. 

Directly one comes to the crest of the hill there 
opens a wide view over the Kentish Weald. Reaches 
of the Thames are seen, peeping through foliage ; 



TRAMPS 41 

distant houses and whitewashed cottages shine clearly 
miles away, and the spire of Bexley Church closes 
the view in front, where the road ends dustily. Along 
this road comes daily and all day a varied procession 
of tramps. The traveller looks down upon them from 
this eyrie with wonderment and dismay ; the cottagers, 
the householders and gardeners hereabouts, see them 
pass with less surprise and additional misgivings, for 
their gardens, their hen-roosts, clothes-lines and 
orchards pay tribute to these Ishmaelites to whom the 
rights of property are but imperfectly known. This is 
why the gates and doors along the Dover Road are so 
uniformly and resolutely barred, bolted, chained, and 
padlocked ; for these reasons ferocious dogs roam amid 
the suburban pleasances, and turn red eyes and 
foaming mouths toward one who leans across garden- 
gates to admire the flowers with which the fertile soil of 
Kent has so liberally spangled every cultivated spot ; 
and to them is due the murderous -looking garnishment 
of jagged and broken glass with which every wall-top is 
armed. " Peace must lie down armed " on the Dover 
Road ; the citizen must lock, bolt, and bar his house o' 
nights, and does well to exhibit warning placards, 
" Beware of the Dog ! " He does better to tip the 
policeman occasionally to keep an especially vigilant 
look-out, and it is not an excess of precaution that 
so frequently covers the flower-beds with wire-netting. 



X 

There is, indeed, no road to equal the Dover Road 
for thieves, tramps, cadgers, and miscellaneous 
vagrants, either for number or depravity. Throughout 
the year they infest alike the highways and byways 
of Kent, but the most constant procession of them is to 
be seen on the great main road between London and 
the sea. A great deal of begging, some petty pilfering. 



42 THE DOVER ROAD 

and a modicum of work in the fruit season and during 
the hop-harvest suffice to keep them going for the 
greater part of the year, while the winter months are 
fleeted in progresses from one casual ward to another 
in the numerous unions along the road. Phenomenally 
ragged, bronzed by the sun, unshaven, unshorn, they 
are met, men, women, and children alike, at every turn, 
for many miles, especially between Southwark and 
Canterbury. The sixteen miles' stretch of road 
between Canterbury and Dover is comparatively 
unfrequented by them ; but Gravesend, Dartford, 
Crayford, and Bexley Heath are centres of the most 
disgraceful mendicanc}^ " Lodgings for travellers " 
at fourpence a night, or two shillings a week, are a 
feature of these places, and how prominent a feature 
cannot be guessed by any one who has not been there. 
Whole families on the tramp are to be met with between 
these places, and long vistas of them are gained along 
any particularly straight piece of road. They are 
everything that is dirty and horrible, but they are 
perfectly happy and quite irreclaimable, many of them 
being hereditary tramps. 

Philanthropic societies inquire into the tramp ; 
classify him, endeavour to cleanse him and restore 
him to some place in society, but all to no purpose. 
He is quite satisfied with himself ; he likes dirt, and 
dislikes nothing so much as either moral or physical 
cleansing. That is one reason why he seeks the 
shelter of the casual ward only as a last resource. 
He has to undergo a bath there, and feels as chilly 
when his top-dressing of grime is removed as you 
and I would be were we turned naked into the streets. 
To reform your tramp it would be essential to snare 
him at a very early age indeed, and, even then, 
I am not sure but that his natural traits would break 
out suddenly, like those of any other wild beast kept 
in captivity. 

The truth is, tramping is a very old profession, and 
hereditary in a degree very few good people imagine. 



TRAMPS' SIGNS 43 

Unlettered, but highly organised, trampdom has a 
lingua franca of its own, and its signs are to be read, 
chalked on the fences and gateposts of the Dover Road, 
as surely as one could read a French novel. 

The argot and the sign-language of the road are 
not difficult to acquire by those who have observant 
eyes and ears to hearken, but, like all languages, they 
are ever changing, and the accepted signs of yesteryear 
are constantly superseded by newer symbols. Little 
do the country-folk understand the significance of the 
chalk-marks on their gates and walls. Does the portly 
yeoman suspect that the \ on his gatepost means 
" no good " ? And how mixed would be the feelings 
of many a worthy lady w^ere the inner meaning of 
revealed to her — " Religious, but good on the whole." 
Were the eloquence of that mark discovered to her, 
she would know at once how it was that the poor men, 
with their ragged beards and their toes peeping through 
their boots, were so unfailingly pious and thankful for 
the cold scran and the threepenny-piece with which 
she relieved their needs, asking a blessing on her and 
hers until they were out of sight, when they " stowed " 
the piety and threw the provisions into the nearest 
ditch, calling in at the next roadside pub to take the 
edge off their thirst with that threepenny-piece. It 
may safely be said that the tramp is not grateful. 
He is, indeed, altruistic, but his altruism he saves for his 
kind, and he exhibits it in the danger-signals he chalks 
up in places the brotherhood wot of. There are 
degrees of danger, as of luck. Some good-hearted 
people become soured by many calls on their generosity, 
and one can readily understand even the mildest- 
mannered of elderly ladies becoming restive when 
the sixth tramp appears at the close of the day. 
Other people, too, lose their generosity with the 
bedding-out plants which one of the fraternity has 
" sneaked " from the front garden under cover of night. 
In the first instance, the sign A (which means " Spoilt 
by too many callers ") is likely to be found somewhere 



44 THE DOVER ROAD 

handy, and in the second that innocent-looking 
triangle is apt to become □> the English of which is 
" Likely to have you taken up," even if it does not 
become O = " Dangerous. Sure of being quodded." 



XI 

Passing many of these undesirable waj^farers, one 
comes, in a mile — fields and hedgerows and market- 
gardens on either side— to Shoulder of Mutton Green, 
a scrubby piece of common-ground shaped like South 
America — but smaller. Hence the peculiar eloquence 
of its name. The Kent County Council has set up 
a large and imposing notice-board at the corner of the 
green which bears its name and a portentous number 
of bye-laws, and when the sun is low and shadows slant 
(the board is so large and the green so small), the shade 
of it falls across the green and into the next field. 

And now comes Belle Grove, spelled, as one may see 
on the stuccoed cottages by the wayside, with a pleasing 
diversity. Belle Grove, Bell Grove, and Belgrove ; and 
one would pin one's faith on the correct form being the 
second variety, because the place is not beautiful, nor 
ever could have been. 

To Bell Grove, then, succeeds Welling, and Welling 
is a quite uninteresting and shabby hamlet fringing 
the road, ten-and-a-quarter miles from London Bridge. 
The new suburban railway from London to Bexley 
Heath crosses the road, and has a station — a waste of 
sand, stones, and white palings — here. The place, says 
Hasted, in his " History of Kent," was called Well End, 
from the safe arrival of the traveller at it, after having 
escaped the danger of robbers through the hazardous 
road from Shooter's Hill," which derivation, though 
regarded as a happy effort of the imagination, is 
considerably below the dignified level of a county 
historian. Indeed, I seem to see in this the 



TO BEXLEY 45 

irresponsible frivolity of the guards and coachmen of 
the Dover ]\Iail. Why, the thing reeks of coaching 
wit, and how Hasted, a Fellow of the Society of 
Antiquaries, could have included in his monumental 
work (which took him forty years to write) so obvious 
a witticism, is beyond my comprehension. Shall I be 
considered pedantic if I point out that the place-name, 
with its termination wg, carries with it evidence of 
being as old as Saxon times, and denotes that here was 
the settlement of an ancient tribe, or patriarchial 
family, the Wellings ? I will dare the deed and record 
the fact, remarking, meanwhile, that if other county 
historians were as little learned as Hasted, and equally 
speculative, they would seem more human, and their 
deadly tomes become much more entertaining. 

But, after this, it Avould not beseem me to do else 
than record the fact that the new suburban district 
springing up beside the road, half a mile past Welling, 
is called " Crook Log." Why " Crook Log," and whence 
came that singular name, are things " rop in mistry," 
and I will run no risks of becoming fogged in rash 
endeavours to elucidate the origin of this place-name. 

Half a mile onward, and then begins Bexley Heath. 
" Once upon a time," that is to say, before an Act of 
Parliament was obtained in 1817 for enclosing what was 
then a wide, wild tract of desolate heath-land, Bexley 
Heath was entirely innocent of buildings. 

The old village of Bexley lies a mile and a half to 
the right of the road, and is as rural, peaceful, and 
pleasant as Bexley Heath is mean and wretched. 
Between here and the village lies Hall Place, a Tudor 
mansion of great size and stately architecture, largely 
distinguished for its chequer-board patterning of flint 
and stone. The property was once that of the family 
called " At-hall," from their residence here, in an earlier 
mansion. The Tudor flint-and-stone building we now 
see was built by Sir Justinian Champneis, a Lord 
Mayor of London, towards the middle of the sixteenth 
century. In less than a hundred years the Champneis 



46 THE DOVER ROAD 

were succeeded by the Austens, who made alterations, 
until 1772, when it passed to Sir Francis Dashwood, 
in whose family it yet remains. 

In the neighbourhood of Bexley Heath, and also 
at Crayford and places beside the Thames near Dartford 
are some singular shafts of unknown age or purpose, 
sunk into the soil, frequently to a depth of a hundred 
feet, through the chalk of which this district chiefly 
consists. " Danes' Holes," the country-folk call them, 
and they are traditionally supposed to have been 
constructed as hiding-places to which the old 
inhabitants of these parts could retire when the 
Northmen's piratical fleets appeared in the estuary of 
the Thames. Antiquaries have a theory that these 
singular pits were sunk by our neolithic forbears in 
search of flints. The antiquaries, however, are most 
probably wrong, because flints were to be found readily 
enough by the men of the Stone Age, without going 
to the trouble of mining for them ; and no one has yet 
arisen to show that neolithic man was more likely than 
we, his descendants, to give himself unnecessary labour. 

We will, therefore, assume that the legendary name 
of " Danes' Holes " shadows forth the purpose of these 
shafts a great deal more correctly than the ingenious 
theories of antiquaries, made to fit personal pre- 
dilections ; the more especially as legendary history 
is generally found to square with facts much more 
frequently than scientific pundits would have us believe. 

These remarkable pits commence with a trumpet- 
shaped orifice Avhich immediately contracts into a 
narrow shaft, broadening at the bottom into a bulb-like 
chamber, not unremotely resembling in shape the tube 
and bulb of a thermometer. " By a curious coinci- 
dence," says one who has long been familiar with these 
strange survivals, '' the shape of the Bexley shafts 
is exactly that of a local beer-measure which is held in 
great estimation. In several houses may be seen an 
advertisement that " beer is sold by the yard." 



CRAYFORD 47 



XII 



Leaving Bexley Heath, the road becomes suddenly 
beautiful, where it loses the last of the mean shops 
— the cats' -meat vendors, the tinkers, the marine 
stores — that give so distinct and unwholesome a cachet 
to its long-drawn-out street. The highway goes down 
a hill overhung with tall trees, with chestnuts and 
hawthorns, whose blossoms fill the air in spring with 
sweet and heavy scents ; but, in the hollow, gasworks 
contend with them, and generally, it is sad to say, 
come off easy victors. Follows then a nondescript 
bend of the road which brings one presently into 
Crayford, fifteen miles from London. 

Antiquaries are divided in opinion over the ancient 
history of Crayford. While some incline to the belief 
that it is the site of the Roman Noviomagus, others 
are prone to select Keston Common as the locality 
of that shadowy camp and city. The question will 
probably never be settled beyond a doubt, but the 
weight of evidence is strong in favour of Keston 
Common, eight miles away to the south-west. Here 
still exist the traces of great earthworks, covering a 
space of a hundred acres, while numerous finds of 
Roman coins and pottery have been made from time 
to time. At Crayford, on the other hand, the only 
presumptive evidence is to be found in this having 
been that old Roman military way, Watling Street, 
and, in the very slender thread of allusion to the name 
of Noviomagus, supposed, on the authority of Hasted, 
to be extant in the title of the half-forgotten manor of 
Newbury. 

But, however vague may be the connection between 
Noviomagus and Crayford, certain it is that here, in 
457, was fought that tremendous battle between the 
Saxons under Hengist, and the Britons commanded 
by Vortigern, a conflict in which four thousand of the 
Romanised Britons were slain. It was in 449 that 



48 THE DOVER ROAD 

Hengist and Horsa, brother-chiefs* of the Jutish- 
Saxons, landed at Ebbsfleet, in Thanet, at the invita- 
tion of Vortigern, who sought their aid against the 
Picts and the Sea-rovers. They came in three ships, 
and their original force could scarcely have numbered 
more than five hundred men. But, having warred 
for the Britons, and fought side by side with them 
against the Scots, they soon perceived how defenceless 
was the land. " They sent," says the Anglo-Saxon 
chronicler, " to the Angles, and bade them be told of 
the Avorthlessness of the Britons, and the richness of the 
land." In response to this invitation, there came from 
over sea the men of the Old Saxons, the Jutes, and the 
Angles ; and, six years after the landing of the two 
brothers, these treacherous allies, strengthened in 
number, felt strong enough to attempt the seizure of 
Kent. Pretexts for a quarrel were readily found, and, 
through the mists that hang about the scanty records 
of that time, we hear first of the Battle of Aylesford, 
fought in 455, in which the Britons experienced their 
first great defeat. Here, though, Horsa Avas slain, 
and to Hengist, with his son Esc, was left the foundation 
of the Saxon kingdom of Kent. The Battle of Crayford 
for a time left all this fertile corner of England to the 
Saxons. " The Britons," says the chronicler, " forsook 
the land of Kent, and in great consternation fled to 
London." But, though enervated by long years of 
luxury, and so greatly demoralised by defeats, the 
Britons had yet some force left. Vortigern, " the 
betrayer of Britain," as he has come down to us in the 
pages of history, was overthrown by another enemy, 
a rival British prince, that doughty Romanised 

* The real names of these two brothers are unknown. They took the 
names by which they are known in liistory from the banners under which 
their men fought ; banners which bore the cognizance of a white iiorse : 
Hengist and Horsa being merely the Jutish-Saxon words for " horse " and 
" mare." The Danish, indeed, still use the word " hors " for mare, and a 
survival of the old badge of these fierce pagans is still to be met with in the 
familiar white horse of Brunswick-Hanover. The prancing steed that remains 
to this day the Kentish device, with its dauntless motto " Tnvicta," is also 
a survival from the days when Hengist and Horsa founded the first Saxon 
kingdom in Britain. 



A QUAINT EPITAPH 4d 

chieftain, Aurelius Ambrosianus, who, after defeating 
that weak king, gathered up the scattered patriots, and 
feU upon the Saxons with such fury that they were 
driven back to that Isle of Thanet which had originally 
been given them for their services against the Scots of 
Strathclyde. " Falchions drank blood that day ; the 
buzzard buried his horny beak in the carcases of the 
slain ; the eagles feasted royally on the flesh of them 
that fell ; and the whitening bones of the Northmen 
long afterwards strewed the fair land of Kent." 

Eight years later, the work of Aurelius began to 
be undone, and in another eight years the veteran 
Hengist and his son had completed the foundation of 
their kingdom. 

Crayford, it will thus be seen, is a town of con- 
siderable historic interest ; but, apart from this claim 
upon one's attention, it has, I fear, no attraction 
whatever. 

But here is Crayford church, in whose yard is one of 
the quaintest epitaphs imaginable :— 

" Here lies the body of Peter Isnell, thirty years 
clerk of this parish. He lived respected as a pious 
and mirthful man, and died on his wa}^ to church, 
to assist at a wedding, on the 31st of March, 1811, 
aged 70. The inhabitants of Crayford have raised 
this stone to his cheerful memory, and as a token 
of his long and faithful services. 

The life of this Clerk was just three -score and ten, 

Nearly half of which time he chauuted Amen. 

In his youth he was married, like other young men ; 

But his wife died one day, so he chaunted Amen. 

A second he married — she departed— what then ? 

He married and buried a third, with Amen. 

Thus, his joys and his sorrows were treble ; but tlien 

His voice was deep bass as he sung out Amen. 

On the horn he could blow, as well as most men 

So his horn was exalted in sounding Amen. 

But he lost all his wind after three-score and ten 

And here, with three wives, he waits, till again 

The trumpet shall rouse him to sing out Amen. 

The distance l^etween Crayford and Dartford is but 
two miles, past White Hill ; and all the way are fruit 

E 



50 THE DOVER ROAD 

gardens, tramps, and odious little terraces of brick 
cottages with tiny gardens in front, whose brilliant, 
old-fashioned flowers — sweet-williams, marigolds, and 
polyanthuses — put to shame these wretched efforts of 
the builder. There is, half a mile from Crayford, 
beside the road, an iron post with the City of London 
arms and the legend, " Act 24 & 25 Vict. cap. 42," in 
relief. This wayside pillar marks at once the limits of 
the London Police District, and the boundary of the 
area affected by the London Coal and Wine Duties 
Continuance Act of 1861 . The City of London has been 
entitled from time immemorial to levy dues on all coal 
entering the metropolis, and this privilege, regulated 
from time to time, was abolished only in 1889. Two 
separate duties of twelve pence and one penny per ton 
were confirmed by this act and authorised to be levied 
upon coals, culm, and cinders ; while the acts dating 
from 1694, imposing a tax of four shillings per tun on 
all kinds of wine were at the same time confirmed and 
renewed, and the radius made identical with the London 
police jurisdiction, instead of the former limit of twenty 
miles. These boundary marks were ordered to be set 
up on turnpike and public roads, beside canals, inland 
navigations, and railways, and are frequently encoun- 
tered by the cyclist and pedestrian, to whom their 
purpose is not a little mysterious. 

The duty on coals entering London amounted in 1885 
to no less than £449,343, and on wines to £8,488. 
By far the greater part of these amounts was, of course, 
collected on the railways and in the i:)ort of London. 
Originally imposed for the maintenance of London 
orphans, the wine dues became, like the coal duties, 
great sources of income, by which many notable 
London improvements, among them the Victoria 
Embankment, have been carried out. 



DARTFORD 51 



XIII 



Dartford, to which wc now come, is a queer Httle 
town, planted in a profound hollow, through which 
runs its wealth-giving Darent. Mills and factories 
meet the eye at every turn. Not smoking, grimy 
factories of the kinds that blast the Midland counties, 
but cleanly-looking boarded structures for the most 
part, own brothers to flour-mills in outward aspect ; 
places where paper is manufactured, and nowadays 
drugs and chemicals. Dartford is industrial to-day, 
but there are old-fashioned nooks, and some of the 
street-names are intriguing : " Bullace Lane " and 
" Overy Street,"' for example. Few people nowadays 
knoAV what is a " bullace," It is, or was, a small wild 
plum, of the damson kind. 

And here is the traditional home of paper-making 
in England, for it was in Dartford, in the reign of 
Good Queen Bess, that John Spielman (majesty, 
in the person of Gloriana's successor, James the First, 
knighted him for it in 1605) introduced the art of 
paper-making to these shores. What induced that 
man of gold and jewels and precious stones (he was 
jeweller to Her Majesty) to take up paper-making, I do 
not know ; but he made a very good thing of it, 
commercially speaking, and no wonder, Avhen he had 
sole license during ten years for collecting rags for 
making his paper withal. Besides introducing the 
manufacture of paper, Sir John Spielman added the 
lime-tree to our parks and gardens, for he brought 
over with him from his native place, Lindau, in 
Germany, two slips from some U7iter den linden or 
another, and planted them in front of his Dartford 
home, where they flourished and became the progenitors 
of all the limes in England. 

If you step into the quaint old church of Dartford, 
you will see, as soon as your eyes become accustomed 
to the gloom, the tomb of Sir John Spielman and his 



52 THE DOVER ROAD 

wife, with their effigies, properly carved, painted and 
gilt, while in various parts of the church may be 
found what is said to be his crest, the fool's cap, which 




ARMS OF SPIELMAN A^D HIS FIEST WIFE. 

he used as a water-mark on a particular size of paper. 
" Foolscap " paper derives its name from that water- 
mark ; and thus, though the term now indicates a size, 
it was originally a trade-mark. The mark may have 
been derived, not from any crest, but from the long 
cap worn by the figure on his wife's shield of arms ; 
although it was greatly changed in the process. At the 
same time, it is to be noted that the fool's cap water- 
mark occurred on paper made in Germany in 1472. 



THE SPIELMANS 53 

The presence of the badge in the church shows that 
the paper-maker had a good deal to do with the 
reparation of the building. 

In 1858 an association styling themselves the " Legal 
Society of Paper Makers," of whom I know nothing, 
restored Spielman's tomb. The strange heraldic 
coat-of-arms of Spielman will be noticed. It is, and 
looks, German, and is of an extravagant nature that 
would utterly discompose an English herald. 
Spielman's coat exhibits a blue serpent with a red crest, 
standing on his tail on a gold background, between six 
golden lions on a red field, the whole of this singular 
device based on a green mount. His wife's arms, 
impaled with his own, are a man clothed in a long black 
gown, with a long cap, holding in his hand an olive 
branch, and standing on a red mount inverted. The 
crest is : a savage, wreathed about the temples and 
loins with ivy. Motto : Arte et fortuna. The epitaph 
is in German. Spielman's first wife died in 1607. 
In 1609 he married again, and deceased in 1626, 
leaving by the second wife three sons and one 
daughter. 

The fortunes of the Spielmans were short-lived. 
His second wife was living in 1646, but seems to have 
had little interest in the business, which about 1686 was 
in possession of a Mr. Blackwell. Meanwhile the 
Spielman family had declined to poverty, and in 1690 
" goody Spielman," widow of his grandson George, 
was in receipt of Is. 6d. weekly relief ; and in 1696 the 
wife of a John Spielman was receiving 2s. The 
Spielman paper mill stood where the gas-mantle factory 
of Curtis and Harvey is now found. 

There is a curious sundial actually in the church ; 
oddly placed on a stone foundation on the splayed sill of 
the south-east window. It is dated 1820, and records 
the hours only from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

A brass to John Donkin (1782-1846) shows liim with 
head and shoulders. The inscription states it was placed 
here because it was not considered proper that one 



54 



THE DOVER ROAD 



who had placed ancient men and times on record 
should himself be forgotten. 

We may be thankful that Spielman did no more to 
the church, for, had he rebuilt it, we should have lost 
one of the finest and most picturesque churches on the 





OT^I>:t4^ 




■^^^^^^i^S^^^^ 







DARTFORD CHURCH. 

Dover Road, whose tall tower, severely unornamental, 
with clock oddly placed on one side, is such a pro- 
minent feature of Dartford. Gundulf, that famous 
architect-bishop of Rochester, to whom Rochester 
Keep, Dover Castle, the White Tower of the Tower of 
London, portions of Rochester Cathedral, and a number 
of other buildings, civil, ecclesiastical and military, are 
ascribed with more or less show of authority, is supposed 
to have built Dartford tower, not so much for religious 
as for defensive uses. For hereby runs the Darent 
across the road, and no bridge s])anncd the ford when 
Gundulf s tower was first built. It therefore guarded 



THE "BULL" 55 

the passage until the neiohbouring hermit, who Hved 
in a fine damp eell by the riverside, sueeeeded in 
collecting enough money Avherewith to build a bridge 
whose successor forms an excellent leaning-stock on 
Sundays to the British workman waiting anxiously for 
the public-houses to open. 

There is in the church a small thirteenth century 
lancet window in the west end wall of the north aisle, 
which is pointed out as the window of the cell occupied 
by the hermit who tended the ford. It commanded 
the road ; and no doubt the hermit was often knocked 
up at night by travellers desiring to be guided over the 
river. In 1903 a charming picture in stained glass was 
added, " The Hermit of the Ford," showing a bearded 
and hooded man holding up a lantern. The ford was 
not superseded until 1461, when the first bridge was 
built. This remained until the present bridge replaced 
it, in 1754. On that occasion, the churchyard on the 
south side of the church was curtailed, for widening 
the road, and an angle of the church itself was in 1792 
shaved off for the footpath, as can be seen to this day. 

The old inns of Dartford are very numerous. Most of 
them, unfortunately, have been cut up into small beer- 
houses and tenements since the coaches were run off the 
road by steam, but one fine old galleried inn, the " Bull," 
remains to show what the coachinoj inns of lono^ ago 
were like. The courtyard is now roofed-in with glass, 
and the little bedrooms behind the carved balusters of 
the gallery are largely given up to spiders and lumber. 
But, fortunately for those who care to see what an old 
galleried inn was like, the changes here have consisted 
only of additions instead, as is only too usual, of 
destruction. There is a curious detail, too, about the 
" Bull," and that is the whimsical position of its sign 
in a place where ninety out of a hundred people never 
see it. The " bull in a china-shop " is proverbial, 
but a bull among the chimney-pots is something quite 
out of the common. It is here, though, that the 
effigy of a great black bull may be seen, reared up 



56 



THE DOVER ROAD 



aloft in a place between the constellations and the 
beasts of the field. 

There is one modern incident in connection with 
the " Bull " at Dartford which shows how inflamed 
were the passions of the workinfj class in favour of 
Georcfe the Fourth's silly and indiscreet wife, and this 




THE " BULL " INX, DARTFORD. 



incident happened while the monarch was changing 
horses here. It was a journeyman currier who showed 
his sympathy with Queen Caroline, and he did so by 
thrusting his head in at the carriage window, and 
roaring in the face of startled majesty, " You are a 
murderer ! " which can be taken neither as a compli- 
ment nor a statement of fact — unless, indeed, we agree 
with that mathematically inclined cynic who held that 
a " fact " was a lie and a half. 

Pastor Moritz, in his account of a seven weeks' tour 



WAT TYLER 57 

in England, tells us how he passed through Dartford. 
He was by no means a distinguished person, but what 
he has to say of his travels is interesting, as contributing 
to show how others see us. He came into England by 
way of the Thames, May 31, 1782, and landed (he says) 
just below Dartford — probably at Greenhithe — to which 
place he walked in company with some others, and there 
breakfasted. He was fresh from the dreary, sandy 
^lark of Brandenburg, and this fair county of Kent 
delighted him hugely. At Dartford he saw, for the 
first time, an P^nglish soldier. That rol^ust Tommj^ 
struck him with admiration, both for the sake of 
his red coat and his martial bearing. " Here, too, 
I first saw " (says he) (" what I deemed a true English 
sight) two boys boxing in the street." The party 
separated at Dartford, and, taking two post-chaises 
at the " Bull," drove to London, the Pastor " stunned," 
as it were, by a constant rapid succession of interesting 
objects, arriving at Greenwich nearly in a state of 
stupefaction. 

Dartford will ever live in history as being the 
starting-point of Wat the Tyler's rebellion of 1381. 
Tradition places the scene of Wat's murderous attack 
on the tax-gatherer opposite the " Bull," where once 
was Dartford Green. The Green has long since gone, 
but the story never stales of how the Tyler dashed out 
the tax-gatherer's brains with his hammer. It is, for 
one thing, a tale that appeals strongly to an over-taxed 
community, sinking under burdens imposed chiefly 
for the support of imperial and local bureaucracy ; 
and I fear that if some modern tax-collector met a 
similar fate, many worthy people, not ordinarily 
bloodthirsty, would say, " Serve him right ! " 

The particular impost which caused the trouble 
five hundred years ago was the odious Poll-tax, a 
hateful burden that had already caused wide discontent 
throughout England, and needed only a more than 
usually unpleasant incident to cause ill feelings to break 
out in ill deeds. That incident was not lacking. 



58 THE DOVER ROAD 

At Dartford, one of the collectors had demanded the 
tax for a youniv girl, daughter of he who is known to 
history as Wat Tyler. Her mother maintained that 
she was under the age required by the statute. The 
tax-collector grew insolent and overbearing, and, it 
seems, was proceeding to a delicate investigation — like 
that which procured Mr. W. T. Stead three months' 
imprisonment some years ago — when the Tyler, who 
had just returned from work, killed him with a stroke 
from his hammer. 

How Wat the Tyler was appointed by popular 
acclamation leader of the Commons in Kent ; how, 
at the head of a hundred thousand insurgents, he 
marched to Blackheath, are matters rather for the 
history of England than for this causerie along the 
Dover Road. 



XIV 

The old coachmen had an exciting time of it when 
either entering or leaving Dartford. They skidded 
down West Hill, when coming from London, to the 
imminent danger of their necks and those of their 
passengers, and they painfully climbed the East Hill, 
on their way out of the tovm. toward Dover. When 
several accidents had occurred to prove how hazardous 
to life and property were these roads, the turnpike- 
trustmongers reduced their steepness by cutting 
through the hill-tops. This was about 1820. 
Although the roads were thus lowered, they still have 
a remarkably abrupt rise and fall, and the traveller 
in leaving the town for Dover can gain from halfway 
up the slope of the East Hill quite an extended view 
over Dartford roof-tops. He, however, remains to 
sketch at peril of some inconvenience, for the tramps 
who frequent Dartford take a quite embarrassing 
interest in art. 

Somewhere at this end of the town stood the Chantry 



MARTYRS 



59 



of St. Edmund the Martyr, a halting-place at which 
j^ilgrims on their way to Canterbury stopped to pray 
and to kiss the usual relics. The site was probably 
where the Dartford Cemeter}^ now stands beside the 
road, on the border of what is now called Dartford 
Brent, a wide expanse of common land known in 
other times as Brent, or Burnt Heath. This place 
came very near to being the site of a battle between 




DARTFORB BRIDGE. 



the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, for here it was 
that the rival armies first confronted one another ; 
but, instead of coming to blows, their leaders held a 
parley ; and so, fair words on their lips, but with deceit 
in their hearts, they went up to London. Many years 
later, on July 19, 1555, to be precise, Dartford Brent 
reappears in history as the place on which three 
Protestant martyrs, Christopher Wade, Margaret 
Pollen, and Nicholas Hall, were burnt at the stake, 
and since then the annals of the place have been quite 
uninteresting. The gilt-crested spire of the memorial 
to them peers up on the skyline of the road-cutting, on 



60 THE DOVER ROAD 

the way up to the Brent. It stands in the old cemetery, 
on the left. 

Donkin, the historian of Dartford, wrote in 1844 : — 
" On the Brent are the outlines of the ' Deserter's 
Grave,' cut in the turf, formerly frequented by the 
scholars of Hall Place School : the sod of which is still 
continued to be cut away by the country people in 
memory of the unknown, traditionally said to have been 
shot in the adjoining pit." 

Some light on this tradition is shed by an item in the 
churchwardens' accounts :— 

1679. Payed the coroner for selling on a soldier 

that hanged himself ]3s. (V/. 

Payd lor a stake to drive through him 0.?. 6rf. 

Drink for the Jury Is ed. 

Here the road branches — the Dover Road to the left, 
the Roman Watling Street to the right ; although, the 
Roman road being older and itself based on an 
immeasurably more ancient British trackway, it would 
be more fitting to say that it is the existing Dover Road 
which branches off from the parent trunk road. From 
this point of departure on the Heath, until at the north 
end of Strood High Street the ways again come to a 
meeting, over eleven miles of the original route have 
been abandoned for what in mediaeval times proved to 
be the more convenient route round by the waterside 
at Greenhithe and Gravesend. 

But although not for many centuries have these 
eleven miles or so of abandoned Roman way been in use 
as a through route, they are not all lost. The first three 
miles across the Heath form a good local road, which 
then turns off to the right, leaving the Watling Street 
to climb the hill of Swanscombe, steeply up, as a 
tangled lane amid the dense woods. It is a very 
considerable elevation. Here and there the footpath 
deviates from the original Roman line, and the ridges, 
banks and hollows of it can occasionally be glimpsed 
amid the undergrowth ; but in any case it seems 
evident that the Watling Street in these eleven miles 



WATLING STREET 61 

was not straight, but re-aligned in some four limbs or 
individually straight stretches, partly to avoid going- 
over the extreme crest of Swanscombe Hill. On the 
shoulder of that hill there was at the time of the road 
being made or remodelled by the Romans a British 
village, established inland here away from the Thames 
estuary probably as being a safer place than any 
settlement by the riverside. 

Here, on the slope of the hill, the Watling Street is 
cut through by the vastly deep and broad excavation 
in the chalk made by the activities of the Associated 
Portland Cement Manufacturers. The construction of 
it may even thus be studied in section. 

Below, in the levels of Springhead, Avhere a lane takes 
up the line of the ancient road, there may have been 
that Roman station called Vagniacce ; although it may 
possibly have been by the waterside at Northfleet or 
Southfleet, for it is by no means certain that the 
Romans themselves had no lesser riverside route along 
the line of the present Dover Road. However, to 
lay down a dogma upon so uncertain a matter as the 
Roman road-system in Britain proves to be would not 
commend itself to those best qualified by study to 
judge. 

From Springhead the Watling Street continued 
through Cobham Park, and so at length to a junction 
with the Dover Road, as already noted, at Strood. 

IMeanwhile, the more or less modern highway goes on 
through a dusty district where the builder is contending 
with the country, and, judging from appearances, he 
seems likely to get the best of it. All around are 
glimpses of the Heath, and problematical-looking 
settlements of houses and institutions are grouped 
together on the sky-line, with weird, bottle-like towers, 
extravagantly grotesque, like the architecture of a 
nightmare, or " Ahce in Wonderland." The City of 
London Lunatic Asylum is here beside the road ; 
penitentiaries and their like are grouped about ; 
a huge black windmill stands awfully on the Brent ; 



62 THE DOVER ROAD 

while everywhere are puddles, bricks, old boots, old 
hats, and fragments of umbrellas. Dartford Brent 
is a singular place. 

At the old hamlet of John's Hole, just past here, 
called often in coaching days, " Jack-in-the-Hole," 
was one of the Dover Road turnpikes. The old 
toll-house still remains beside the way. To this 
succeeds, at a distance of three quarters of a mile, 
the melancholy roadside settlement of Horns Cross, 
where a post-office, two inns, and a blasted oak look 
from one side of the road, across great fields of barley, 
to the broad Thames, crowded with shipping, below. 

Stone Church, one of the most beautiful and 
interesting in Kent, stands on a hill-top, a short 
distance from the left-hand side of the road, and 
commands a wide \'iew of the Thames. To architects 
and lovers of architecture it is remarkable on account 
of the striking similarity its rich details bear to those 
of Westminster Abbey, and it is generally considered 
that the architect of the one designed the other. 
This is the more remarkable since the Abbey, with 
this exception of Stone Church, stands alone in 
England as a beautiful and peculiarly personal example 
of Gothic thirteenth-century architecture as practised 
in France. The architect of Westminster Abbey 
must have been of French nationality ; and so curiously 
similar, in little, are not only the details of both church 
and Abbey, but also the varieties of stone of which they 
are built, that they are most unlikely to have been 
the work of different men. 

Greenhithe lies off the road to the left hand, and 
fronts on to the Thames. The road, all the way 
hence to Northfleet, is enclosed by high walls with tall 
factory-chimneys on either side ; or passes between 
long rows of recent cottages alternating with cabbage- 
fields in the last stage of agricultural exhaustion. 
Docks ; huge and ancient chalk-pits ; great tanks of 
lime and whitening, and brickfields are everywhere 
about, for Greenhithe and Northfleet are, and have 



THE QUARRIES 63 

been for many years, the chief places of a great export 
trade in flints, chalk, and lime. The flints are sent 
into Derbyshire, and even to China, where they are 
used in the making of porcelain ; and many thousands 
of tons are shipped annually. The excavation of chalk 
and flints during so long a period has left its mark — a 
very deep and ineffaceable mark, too — upon this part 
of the road, and, to a stranger, the appearance presented 
by the scarred and deeply quarried countryside is wild 
and wonderful. Spaces of many acres have been 
quarried to a depth, in some places, of over a hundred 
and fifty feet, and many of these great pits have been 
abandoned for centuries, accumulating in that time a 
large and luxuriant growth of trees and bushes. 
Others are still being extended, and present a busy 
scene with men in white duck, corduroy, or canvas 
working clothes cutting away the chalk or loading it 
into the long lines of trucks that run on tramAvays down 
to the water's edge. Not the least remarkable things 
in these busy places are the great bluffs of chalk left 
islanded amid the deepest quarries, and reaching to 
the original level of the land. They rise abruptly 
from the quarry floors, are generally quite inaccessible, 
and have been left thus by the quarrymen, as con- 
taining an inferior quality of chalk, mixed with sand 
and gravel, which is not worth their while to remove. 
In midst of scenery of this description, and sur- 
rounded by shops and modern houses, stands Northfleet 
Church, beside the highway. It is a large Gothic 
building of the Decorated period, and has been much 
patched and repaired at different times without 
having been actually " restored." There are some 
mildly interesting brasses in the chancel ; but the 
massive western embattled tower is of greatest interest 
to the student of other times, for it was built, like 
many of the church towers in the Welsh marches and 
along the Scots borders, chiefly as a means of defence. 
The enemies who were thus to be guarded against at 
Northfleet were firstly Saxon pirates, then the fierce 



64 THE DOVER ROAD 

and faithless Danes, and (much later) the French. 
This defensible tower at Northfleet was largely rebuilt 
in 1628, but a part of it belongs to the end of the 
fourteenth century, and it even retains fragments of 
an earlier building, contemporary with the terrible 
Sea-rovers who sailed up the estuary of the Thames, 
burning and destroying everything as they passed. 

A significant sign of the quasi-military uses of 
this extremely interesting tower is the tall stone 
external staircase that runs up its northern face from 
the churchyard to the first-floor level. The small 
doorway that opens at the head of this staircase into 
the first floor was originally the only entrance to the 
tower, and before the churcli could be finally taken the 
enemy would have had to storm these stairs, exposed to 
a fire of cloth-yard shafts from arrow-slits, and of 
heavy stones cast down upon them from the roof. 



XV 

Northfleet adjoins, and is now continuous with, 
Gravesend. It is a busy place, engaged in the 
excavation of chalk and flints, and in ship-building. 
Here, too, were " Rosherville Gardens," or shortly, 
" Rosherville." A suburb of that name is here now. 
but the Rosherville of the Early and Middle Victorians 
is a thing of the past, and the place has been sold to 
an oil company. 

Jeremiah Rosher was the inventor and sponsor of 
those once-famed Gardens. It was so far back as 
the 1830's that he conceived the grand idea of building 
a new towii between Northfleet and Gravesend, on an 
estate he owned here, beside the Thames. The idea 
remained an idea only, for although a pier was built 
and the Gardens formed, Rosher never lived to see his 
" ville," in the sense of being a town. But his Gardens 
were a hugely-compensating success. It is not given 



WATERCRESS 65 

to many to make a success of a hole (unless the hole 
is a mine), and the site of that celebrated Cockney resort 
was, and is, nothing else ; being in fact one of the 
oldest and largest of the chalk-quarries, excavated 
to a depth of one hundred and fifty feet in some 
parts. 

There a curious kind of rusticity was tempered with 
an equally curious urban flavour ; there the succulent 
shrimp and the modest watercress (" Tea ninepence ; 
srimps and watercreases, one shilling "), were supple- 
mented romantically by the strains of husky bands. 
There art was represented by broken-nosed plaster 
statues of Ceres and a variety of other heathen 
goddesses, some supporting gas-lamps in sawdusty bars 
and restaurants ; others gracing lawns and flower-beds. 
To those who delighted in plaster statues grown 
decrepit and minus a leg or an arm, like so many 
neo-classic Chelsea pensioners, Rosherville was ideal. 

" Where to spend a happy day," as the advertise- 
ments used to invite — " Rosherville." The watercress 
consumed there, and at the other popular places near 
by, came from Springhead, which will be found in the 
country at the back of Gravesend. In 1907 died the 
last survivinor dauojhter of the man who " invented " 
watercress as an article of food. It was about 1815 
that William Bradbery, of S^^ringhead, began to 
cultivate from a green weed that grew in the ditches 
this favourite addition to tea-tables. 

He cultivated with care, and laid out extensive beds, 
then, when he had a marketable crop, sold it locally. 
It soon became a famous table dainty, and nothing 
would satisfy him but the patronage of London. He 
filled an old tea-chest with cress, and, with this on his 
back, trudged off to the metropolis, a score or more 
miles away. The sample was satisfactory, and he 
quickly developed a London trade. 

Bradbery (it is said) when he was building up his 
London connection, paid a vocalist to go at night from 
one place of entertainment to another, singing a song in 



66 THE DOVER ROAD 

praise of the famous brown cress from the waters of 
Springhead. 

Be that as it may, Bradbery made a fortune by 
cultivating his cress on the extended area. He seized 
an opportunity where another man would not have seen 
one. 

Watercress is now cultivated largely, and in numerous 
districts. It is known, botanically, as nasturtium 
officinale. 

Electric tramcars now rush and rattle through 
Northfleet and Rosherville, and no one contemplates 
journeying to these scenes with the object of spending 
a " happy da}^" The great group of semi-ecclesiastical 
looking buildings on the left is " Huggens' College." 
Almshouses continue to be built, for the fountain of 
benevolence is not yet dried up. It was in 1847 that 
this foundation came into existence, pursuant to the 
will of John Huggens (born 1776), who was a barge- 
owner and corn-merchant of Sittingbourne. Lookinor 
upon a world rather astonishingly full of almshouses for 
people of humble birth, he conceived the somewhat 
original idea of founding what, with extreme delicacy, 
he termed a " College " for gentlemen reduced to poor 
circumstances. The establishment, strictly secluded 
behind enclosing walls, in well-wooded grounds, houses 
fifty collegians. Huggens himself, in stony effigy, is 
seen over the gateway, seated in a frockcoat and an 
uncomfortable attitude, and displaying a scroll or the 
charter of his " College." The bountiful gentleman is 
sadly weatherworn, for the factory fumes of this 
industrial district have wrought havoc with the 
Portland stone from which he is sculptured. Huggens 
was wise among the generation of benefactors : he 
founded his charity in his own lifetime, and personally 
supervised it. He died in 1865, and his body lies in 
Northfleet churchyard. 

We will now proceed to Gravesend, noting that in 
1787 the slip road between the " Leather Bottle " at 
Northfleet and the beginnings of Chalk, two miles in 



GRAVESEND 67 

length, was made. It Avould, in the language of to-day, 
applied to incandescent gas-mantle burners and to 
avoiding roads alike, be called a " by-pass." 

Gravesend was at one time a place remarkable alike 
for its tilt-boats and its waterside taverns. The one 
involved the other, for the boats brought travellers 
here from London, and here, in the days of bad roads 
and worse conveyances, they judged it prudent to stay 
overnight, commencing their journey to Rochester the 
following morning. To the town of Gravesend 
belonged the monopoly of conveying passengers to and 
from London by water, and it was not until steamboats 
began to ply up and down the reaches of the Thames 
that this privilege became obsolete. Thus it will be 
seen that, besides being a place of call for ships, either 
outward bound or proceeding home, Gravesend was in 
receipt of much local traffic. The railway has, 
naturally, taken away a large proportion of this, but 
has brought it back, tenfold, in the shape of holiday 
trippers, and the continued growth of the town is 
sufficient evidence of its prosperity. One first hears of 
Gravesend in the pages of Domesday Book, where it is 
called " Gravesham " ; but the difficulty of distinctly 
pronouncing the name led, centuries ago, to the 
corrupted termination of " end " being adopted, first 
in speech, and, by insensible degrees, in writing. It has 
an interesting history, commencing from the time when 
the compilers of Domesday Book found only a " hyhte," 
or landing-place, here, and progressing through the 
centuries with records of growth, and burnings by 
the French ; with tales of Cabot's sailing hence in 
1553, followed by Frobisher in 1576, to the incorpora- 
tion of the town in 1568, and the flight of James the 
Second, a hundred and twenty years later. 

Gravesend was not, in the sixteenth century, a model 
town. Its inhabitants paved, lighted, and cleansed 
their streets, accordingly as individual preferences, 
industry, or laziness dictated. Spouts, pipes, and 
projecting eaves poured dirty water on pedestrians who 



68 THE DOVER ROAD 

were rash enough to walk those streets in rainy weather, 
and people threw away out of window anything they 
wished to get rid of, quite regardless of who might be 
passing underneath ; and so, whether fine or wet, those 
who picked their way carefully along the unpaved 
thoroughfares, stood an excellent chance of being 
drenched with something unpleasant. An open gutter 
ran down the middle of the street, full of rotting refuse ; 
every tradesman hung out signs which sometimes fell 
down and killed people, and in the night, when the 
wind blew strong, a concert of squeaking music filled, 
with sounds not the most pleasant, the ears of people 
who wanted to go to sleep. 

Things were but little less mediaeval in the middle 
of the seventeenth century, although the trade and 
importance of Gravesend had greatly increased. 
Troubles arose then on account of the disorderly 
hackmen, " foreigners and strangers " — any one not a 
freeman or a burgess was a " foreigner " — who plied 
between Gravesend and Rochester, and took away the 
custom that belonged of right to members of Gravesend 
guilds. Two years later the Corporation of Gravesend 
was distinctly Roundhead in its sympathies, for in 1649 
we find the town mace being altered, the Royal arms 
removed, and those of the Commonwealth substituted, 
at a cost of £23 10^. Od. In 1660, things wore a very 
different complexion, for in that year the Gravesend 
people welcomed Charles the Second with every 
demonstration of joy. They had the mace restored 
to its former condition at a cost, this time, of 
£17 105. Od., and allowed the mayor and another 
£2 5s. 7d. for going up to London to see that the work 
was done properly. They paid £3 10^. Od. for painting 
the king's arms ; 14^. to one John Phettiplace for 
" trumpeters and wigs " ; and 5s. to Will Charley 
" for sounding about the country." Having done this, 
they all got gloriously drunk at a total cost of 
£12 15s. 8d., of which sum £10 7^. 8d. was for wine, 
and £2 8^. Od. for beer. 



70 THE DOVER ROAD 

It was, indeed, during this latter half of the seven- 
teenth century that Gravesend experienced one of its 
great periods of prosperity ; and so the loyalty was 
well rewarded. Of this date are many of the fine old 
red-brick mansions in the older part of the town, 
together with the Admiralty House, official residence 
of the Duke of York when Lord High Admiral. To 
Grav^esend he came as James the Second, a prisoner. 

Embarking from Whitehall, on December 18, 1688, 
he reached here as late as nine o'clock at night. The 
next morning he was conducted hence to Rochester 
in the charge of a hundred of the Prince of Orange's 
Dutch Guards, and a melancholy journey it must 
have been for him, if his memory took him back to 
the time when, twenty-eight years before, he came up 
the road with his brothers, Charles the Second and 
the Duke of Gloucester, happily returning from exile. 

To Gravesend came Royal and distinguished 
travellers on their way from Dover to London, and 
hence they embarked for the City and Westminster, 
escorted, if they were sufficiently Royal or distinguished 
by the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and the City Guilds, 
and fitly conducted in a long procession of stately 
barges by this most impressive entrance to the capital 
of England. And even ordinary travellers preferred 
this route. For two reasons : the river-road was much 
more expeditious than the highway in those pre- 
MacAdamite daj^s, and by taking it they escaped the 
too-pressing attentions that awaited them on Shooter's 
Hill and Blackheath at the hands of Captains Gibbet 
and Pick-Purse. 

XVI 

Many of these distinguished travellers on this old 
highway have left written accounts of their doings, 
and very interesting readings they make. Foremost 
among the " distinguished " company was Marshal de 
Bassompierre. He came to England in 1626, on an 



OLD-TIME TRAVELLERS 71 

Embassy from the King of France, and arrived at 
Dover on the 2nd of October. There he stayed to 
recruit, for the sea, as usual, had been unkind, until 
Sunday, the 4th, departing thence on that day for 
" Cantorbery," where he slept the night, going on the 
Monday as far as " Sitimborne," and on Tuesday to 
" Rocheter " and Gravesend, where he was met by the 
Queen's barge. Three months later, and he was 
returning home. On December 1st he began his fare- 
wells at the ^ourt of Saint James's, and bade adieu to, 
amongst others, such fearful wild fowl as the Earl of 
Suffolc and the Duke of Boukinkam ; this last the 
dissolute " Steenie " — none other ! On the 5th, 
imagine him at Dover with an equipage of five hundred 
persons shivering on the brink of the Channel, and 
stormbound there for fourteen days at a cost of 14,000 
crowns. 

This imposing company embarked at last, and, after 
braving winds and sea for a whole day, were compelled 
to put back again. When they did finally set off, 
they were five days crossing to Calais, and it was found 
necessary to jettison the Ambassador's two carriages 
en route, in which was, alas ! 40,000 francs' worth of 
clothes. Also this unfortunate diplomat lost twenty- 
nine horses, which died of thirst on the voyage. 

Another French traveller. Monsieur Jouvin de 
Rochefort, greatly daring, visited our shores in 1670. 
He took the ordinary coach for " Gravesine," in order, 
as he says, to embark thence for London, passing on 
his way from Canterbury, Arburtoon, Baten, and 
Asbery ; Grinsrit, Sitingborn, Nieuvetoon, and Renem* 
and coming to Rochester through a strange place called 
Schatenne, which I don't find an3^where on the map, 
but suppose he means Chatham. All along the road 
he remarked a number of high poles, on the top of 
which were small kettles, in which fires were lighted to 
warn the countryside of the robbers who would come in 

* He meant Harbledown, Boughton, and Ospringe : Green-street, Sitting 
bourne, Xewington, and Rainham. 



72 THE DOVER ROAD 

bands and plunder the villages, were it not for the 
courage of the villagers, who formed themselves into 
guards. These poles were about a mile distant from 
each other, and to every one there was a small hut for 
the person whose business it was to keep the beacons 
burning. " God be praised," though, he reached 
" Gravesine " safely ! 

Samuel de Sorbiere, Historiographer Royal to the 
King of France, visited our shores in 1663. The 
normal passage from Calais was three hours, but on 
this occasion seven hours were consumed in crossing, 
and although the weather was very fair, the " usual 
Disorder which those who are not accustomed to the 
sea are subject to " — but no matter ! To make 
matters worse, contempt and affronts were put upon 
him in Dover streets by some sons of Belial in the 
shape of boys who ran after him shouting, " a Monsieur, 
a Monsieur," and who, when they had retired to a safe 
distance, proceeded to the extremely impolite depth of 
calling him a " French dog," " which," says M. de 
Sorbiere, sweepingly, '' is the epithet they give us in 
England." 

Our traveller journej^ed to London by wagon, 
rather than take a post-chaise or even the stage- 
coach ; an extremely undignified thing for an 
Historiographer Royal to do, one would think. But 
then, 'twas the way to note the strange customs of 
these English ! The wagon was drawn by six horses, 
one before another, and beside them walked the 
wagoner clothed in black and appointed in all things 
like another Saint George. He had a brave mounteero 
on his head, and was a merry fellow who fancied he 
made a figure, and seemed mightily pleased with 
himself. Arrived at Gravesend, our traveller, for 
greater expedition, took boat to London, and so an end 
of him, so far, at least, as these pages are concerned. 

But this little crowd of scribbling foreigners who 
visited England and wrote accounts of their travels 
in these islands before the locomotive was dreamed 



M. GROSLEY 73 

of, had much better opportunities of catching 
impressions than the railway train affords. They 
came up this way to London, as slowly as the poet's 
spring ; and, as a rule, they used their opportunities 
very well. For instance, here is the admirable 
M. Grosley, a kindly Frenchman who came over from 
Boulogne in 1765. He gives a most interesting 
account of his journey along the Dover Road on 
the 11th April. He embarked upon Captain Meriton's 
packet, which arrived, in compan}^ Avith a prodigious 
number of other ships, three hours before time, off 
Dover. Here they had to anchor for the tide to serve 
their landing, and the boisterous winds drove several 
vessels ashore, while Captain Meriton's passengers 
resigned themselves to death. When at length the}^ 
landed, half dead, an Englishwoman with her very 
amiable daughter and a tall old Irishman, who pre- 
tended to be an officer (and who doubtless " had a way 
with him "), landed with our traveller, and contrived 
that he should pay part of their fare, the only trick 
played upon M. Grosley (I am pleased to say) during his 
stay in England. The customs officers looked like 
beggars, but treated this foreigner like a gentleman, 
as indeed we may suppose he was, for he belonged to 
the Academy. 

However, a crown was levied on passing his luggage 
by an innkeeper who held the droit cle viscomte. All the 
inns were crowded with the miserable travellers just 
landed, and he with whom we are particularly concerned 
found it necessary to go into the kitchen of his inn and 
take off, with his own hands, one of the tranches de bceuf 
grilling on the coals. After this exploit, he cautiously 
went to bed at six o'clock in the afternoon, for there 
were not enough beds to go round, and possession was 
ever nine points of the laAV ! At three in the morning 
he was called upon to turn out in favour of a new 
arrival ; but, notwithstanding all the rout they made, 
he held to his four-poster until five, when he was 
turned out and the game of Box and Cox commenced. 



74 THE DOVER ROAD 

The sole inhabitants of Dover (says our traveller) 
were sailors, ships' captains, and innkeepers. The 
height of the triumphal arches, on which the vast 
signboards of the inns spanned the narrow streets, 
and the ridiculous magnificence of the ornaments that 
headed them, were wonderful as compared with the 
little post-boys, children of twelve and thirteen years 
of age, who were starting every minute in sole charge 
of post-chaises. The great multitude of travellers 
with which Dover was crowded afforded a reason 
for dispensing with a police regulation which forbade 
public conveyances to travel on Sundays, and on that 
day he set out with seven other passengers in two 
carriages called (" called," you notice, like that street 
in Jerusalem that was " called " straight) " flying 
machines." There were six horses to a machine, and 
they covered the distance to London in one day for 
one guinea each person ; passengers' servants carried 
outside at half-price. The coachmen, who were most 
kindly disposed towards their horses, carried whips, 
certainly, but they were no more in their hands than 
the fan is in winter in the hand of a lady ; they only 
served to make a show with, for their horses scarcely 
ever felt them, so great was the tenderness of the 
English coachman with his cattle. 

But see the peculiar advantages of travelling on 
Sunday. There were no excisemen anywhere on duty, 
and even the highwaymen had ceased their labours 
during the night. The only knights of the road our 
travellers encountered were dangling from gibbets by 
the wayside in all the glories of periwigs and full-skirted 
coats. Unfortunately, the pace was marred by the 
frequent stoppages made to unload the brandy-kegs 
at the roadside inns from the boots of the coaches, 
where they had been stowed away in the absence of 
the gangers. 

Upon their way to Canterbury, the travellers, and 
our foreigner in particular, had for some time perceived 
that they were no longer in France, and when at length 



FOREIGNERS ON ENGLAND 75 

they reached that bourne of pilgrims they were still 
further impressed with that fact by observing a fat man, 
who was just arisen from bed, standing at a bay 
windoAV during the whole time the flying machines 
changed their Pegasuses ; and, as they were unexpected 
the delay was considerable. But all this while the fat 
man stood there in his night-shirt, with a velvet cap 
on his head, contemplating them with folded arms and 
knitted brow, and with an expression which (in France) 
was to be seen only on the faces of them that had just 
buried their dearest friends. Also, the " young 
persons " of both sexes stood and stared — not to mince 
matters — like stuck pigs. 

The country which they travelled through from 
Dover to London was (so our traveller thought) in 
general a bad mixture of sand and chalk. They 
skirted some lovely woods as well furnished as the 
best-stocked forests of France — alas ! where are those 
Avoods now ? — and presently passed over commons 
covered with heath and stray broom, very high and 
flourishing all the year round. Those wild shrubs 
were left to the use of the poor of the several different 
parishes, but their vigour and thickness gave reason 
to conjecture that there were but few poor people 
in those parishes. The best lands were then, as now, 
laid out in hop-gardens. 

The wayside inns appealed strongly to our traveller. 
They Avere given, whether in town or country, to the 
making of large accounts, but then see how rich was 
the English lord who, as a class, frequented them. 
Anyway, they were possessed of a cleanliness far 
beyond that to be found in the majority of the best 
private houses in France. There was only one inn 
on the road from Paris to Boulogne to be mentioned 
in the same breath with the English houses, and 
that was one at Montreuil, frequented by English 
travellers. 

Between Canterbury and Rochester the coaches 
encountered an obstacle which savours rather of Don 



76 THE DOVER ROAD 

Quixote's adventures than of Sunday travelling in 
this unromantic country. This was nothing less 
than a windmill which the country-folk, taking 
advantage of that usually coachless day, were moving 
entire. Less fiery than the Don, the travellers out- 
flanked the gigantic obstacle by dragging the coaches 
into the field beside the road. And of that road, 
M. Grosley has to say that it was excellent ; covered 
with powdered flints, and well kept, in spite of the 
exemption from forced labour which the countrymen 
enjoyed ; and here he quotes what Aurelius Victor 
has to say of the Emperor Vespasian's vast roadworks 
in Britain. 

The roadways had not long been in this enviable 
condition ; only, indeed, so recently as the days of 
George the Second had they been rescued from the 
bad state into which they had been suffered to fall 
during the civil wars, and, generally speaking, the 
English knew little or nothing of the art of road- 
making. 

The repairing of the high-roads was at the expense 
of them that used them. Neither rank nor dignity 
was exempted from the payment ot tolls ; the king 
himself was subject to them, and the turnpike would 
have been shut against his equipage if none of his 
officers paid the money before passing by. 

These high-roads had all along them a little raised 
bank, two or three feet broad, with a row of wooden 
posts whose tops were whitewashed so that the coach- 
men should see them at night. This was for the 
conveniency of foot-passengers. In places where the 
road was too narrow to admit of this arrangement, 
the proprietors of lands adjoining were obliged to 
give passage through their fields, which were all 
enclosed with tall hedges or with strong hurdles about 
four feet high, over which passengers leapt or climbed. 
Custom had so habituated the village girls to this 
exercise that they 'acquitted themselves in it with a 
peculiar grace and agility. The great attention of 



MILTON 77 

the English to the conveniency of foot-passengers 
had several causes. Firstly, they set the highest 
value upon the lives of their fellow-creatures, and in 
that peculiar circumstance they sacrificed to pleasure 
and conveniency. Secondly, their laws were not 
exclusively made and executed by persons who rode 
in their chariots. Thirdly, as the English carriages 
moved as swiftly in the country as slowly in the 
town, the meeting with persons who were so foolish 
or so ill-geared as to walk a-foot would have been 
disastrous to those wayfarers ; and in so democratic 
a country as this the chariot-riders would have had 
a bad time in store for them for so small a matter 
as playing, as it were, the secular Juggernaut with 
pedestrians. 

Eventually this moralising Frenchman reached 
London through Rochester, which place was one 
ong street inhabited solely by ships' carpenters and 
dockyard men. At Greenwich, the shores of Thames 
loomed upon his enraptured gaze, agreeably confounded 
with long lines of trees and the masts of ships, and then 
came delightful London, and that haven where he 
would be — ah ! you guess it, do you not ? It was 
Leicester Fields, le Squarr de Leicesterre of a later 
seneration of Frenchmen. 



XVII 

Having thus disposed of this company of scribbling 
foreigners, I will get on to Milton-next-Gravesend, 
which immediately adjoins the town ; especially 
will I do so because, when the old waterside lanes 
have been explored, little remains to see besides 
Gordon's statue and the little cottage where he used 
to live. The high-road is not at all interesting, unless 
indeed a Jubilee clock- tower and a number of private 
houses of the Regent's Park order of architecture 



78 THE DOVER ROAD 

may be considered to lend a charm ot it. Just beyond 
these houses comes Milton : a school, a church, 
and a public-house standing next one another. The 
church belongs to the Decorated period, and has a 
tower built of flints, stone, and chalk. During the last 
century the churchwardens had the repairing of the 
nave roof under consideration, and, in order to save 
twenty pounds on an estimate, they decided to remove 
the battlements, and to have a slated roof, spanning 
nave and aisles, and ending in eaves. The thing was 
done, against the wish of the Vicar and with the 
approval of the then Bishop of Rochester, and all who 
pass this way can see how barbarous was the deed. 
It had not even the merit of economy, for, by the time 
the work was completed, it had cost the churchwardens 
several hundreds of pounds more than had been 
anticipated. 

" Trifle not, your time's but short," says a very 
elaborate and complicated sundial over the south 
porch, looking down upon the road ; and, taking the 
hint, we will proceed at once from Milton Church to 
the public-house next door. But not for carnal joys ; 
oh no ! Only in the interests of this book will we 
make such a sudden diversion ; for, at the rear of the 
house, on the old bowling-green, is an interesting 
memorial of one of the jolly fellows Avho once upon 
a time gathered here on summer evenings and played a 
game of bowls when business in the neighbouring town 
of Gravesend was done for the day. 

to the memory 

Of Mr. Alderman Nynn, 

An lioneft Man, and an Excellent Bowler. 

Ciiique est sua Fama. 

Full forty long Years was the Alderman feen, 
The delight of each Bowler, and King of this Greene. 
As long he remember'd his Art and his Name, 
Whofe hand was unerring, unrival'd whofe Fame. 
His Bias was good, and he always was found 
To go the right way and to take enough ground. 
The Jack to the uttermoft verge he would fend 
For the Alderman lov'd a full length at each End. 



DENTON 79 

Now mourn ev'ry Eye that hath feeii him difplay 
The Arts of the Game, and the Wiles of his play ; 
For the great Bowler, Death, at one critical Cast 
Has ended his length, and clofe rubb'd him at laft. 

F. W. pofuit, MDCCT.XXVI. 

And having duly noted this elegy of a truly admirable 
man, we may leave Milton, pausing but to look down 
upon the estuary of the Thames, where the great liners 
pass to and fro the most distant parts of the world, 
and also to consider the humours of a hundred years 
ago, when, as now, Milton was in the corporate 
jurisdiction of Gravesend, and w^hen it sufficed both to 
employ one watchman between them. This w^atchman 
was also Common Crier, and w^as supported, not by a 
salary, but (like a hospital) by voluntary contributions. 
And he did not do badly by the grateful Gravesenders, 
for he collected, one year with another, £60, w^hich, 
added to the market-gardening business he also 
carried on, must have made quite a comfortable 
income. 

A little way beyond Milton, w^here the road curves 
round to the right, there will be seen on the left an 
eighteenth-century mansion, standing in extensive 
grounds. Immediately wdthin the lodge-gates is what 
looks like a small church, surrounded by trees. It is 
older and far more interesting than it seems to be. 
Until 1901 it was, in fact, a roofless ruin ; but it was 
then restored by Mr. George M. Arnold, who then 
owned Denton Court, the name of the house. The 
church, now used as a private chapel by the owner of 
Denton Court, was in fact Denton Chapel, the place of 
worship of the parish of Denton, which was ecclesias- 
tically separate from Milton until 1879. Denton is a 
place so small that few maps condescend to notice it, 
but it is an ancient place, first named in a.d. 950, as 
" Denetune," when the manor w^as given by one 
Byrhtric to the Priory of St. Andrew at Rochester, 
which built this chapel of St. Mary. It was on the 
dissolution of the monasteries in the time of Henry the 
Eighth that it fell into ruin. 



80 



THE DOVER ROAD 



The chapel is. of Hterary interest, for it is the original 
of Barham's " Ingoldsby Abbe}^" In travelling 
between Canterbury and London by coach, Barham 
noticed the ruined walls standing up, silhouetted 
against the sky, and looking far more important than 




DENTON CHAPEL. 

intrinsically they were ; for this was then a cleared 
space, the new road near by having in 1787 been cut 
actually through the little churchyard. 

Commentators in various editions of the Ingoldsby 
Legends have stated sceptically " the remains of 
Ingoldsby Abbey will be found — if found at all — among 
the ' Chateaux en Espagne.' " That is not so ; for 
here it is. Barham himself, in a note to the legend 
" The Ingoldsby Penance," remarks the ruins are " still 
to be seen by the side of the high Dover road, about a 
mile and a half below the town of Gravesend." 



The great gate Father Thames rolls sun-bright and clear, 
Cobham woods to the right — on the opposite shore 
Laindon Hills in the distance, ten miles off, or more ; 
Then you've Milton and Gravesend behind — and before 
You can see almost all the way down to the Nore. 



CHALK 



81 



In Domesday Book Denton is written " Danitune," 
and it is generally held that the name comes from the 
raiding Danes, who certainly troubled this estuary ; 
but it is probalDly " Dene-town," the place in the vale ; 
perhaps in contradistinction to Higham, which is not 
far off. 

Chalk is the next place on the road, and Chalk 
is quite the smallest and most scattered of villages, 
beginning at the summit of the hill leading out of 
^Milton and ending at Chalk church, which stands on 
a hillock retired behind a clump of trees nearly a mile 




JOE GARGERY'S FORGE. 

down the road, and far aAvay from any house. All the 
way the road commands long reaches of the Thames 
and the Essex marshes, and on summer days the singing 
of the larks high in air above the open fields can be 
heard. 

At Chalk, in 1836, Charles Dickens rented a honey- 
moon cottage, on his marriage Avith Catherine Hogarth. 
Great controversies arose some years ago, following 
upon what is said to be a wrong identification of the 
place with a residence called the " Manor House " ; 
and it was stated that the real dwelling in question was 
the weather-boarded and much humbler cottage at the 
fork of the old and new roads between Gravesend and 
Northfleet, still standing, and with a commemorative 
tablet on it. Opposite is " Joe Gargery's Forge." 



82 



THE DOVER ROAD 



Chalk church is a very much unrestored building 
of flint and rubble, dating from the thirteenth century. 
Its south aisle was j)ulled down at some remote period. 

There still remains, and in 
very good preservation, 
too, a singular Early English 
carving over the western 
door representing a grinning 
countryman holding an 
immense flagon in his two 
hands and gazing upward 
towards a whimsically-con- 
torted figure that seems to 
be nearly all head and 
teeth. Between the two is 
an empty tabernacle which 
at one time before the 
destruction of '' idolatrous 
statues " would have held 
a figure of the Virgin. The 
two remaining figures prob- 
ably illustrate the celebra- 
tion of " Church ales," a 
yearly festival formerly 
common to all English 
villages, and held on the 
day sacred to the particular 
saint to whom the church 
was dedicated. On these 
occasions there was used to 
be general jollity ; feasting 
and drinking ; manly sports, 
such as boxing, wrestling, 
and games at quarter-staff, would be indulged in, and 
the day was held as a fair, to which came jugglers and 
players of interludes and itinerant vendors from far 
and near. The Church, of course, being the original 
occasion of the merry-making, looked benignly 
upon it, and provided the funds for the malt 




ANCIENT CARVING— CHALK. 



THE "LORD NELSON 



83 



from which the so-called " Church ales " were 
brewed. 

There is one other item of interest at Chalk, and 
that is an old wayside tavern, the " Lord Nelson," 
one of those old houses that occupied, during last 
century, and the fir^t quarter of the nineteenth, a 




SAILORS' FOLLY. (.After Julius C'cesar Ibbet.oon). 

position between the coaching inn and the mere beer- 
house. This type of tavern is still very largely 
represented along the Dover Road, although the sailors 
who chiefly supported them are no longer seen tramping 
the highways between the seaports. The}^ have, 
most of them, little arbours and trim gardens with 
skittle- and bowling-alleys, and here the sailor would 
sit and drink, spin yarns, or play at bowls ; swearing 



84 



THE DOVER ROAD 



strange oaths, and telling of many a hard-fought fight. 
If he had kindred company, there would be, I promise 
you, a riotous time ; for no schoolboy so frolicsome as 
Jack ashore, and hard-won wages and prize-money, got 
at the cost of blood and wounds, he spent like water. 
Nothing was too expensive for him, nor, indeed, 
expensive enough, and if he was sufficiently fortunate to 
leave his landing-place with any money at all, he would 
very likely post up to town with the best on the road. 




JACK COME HOME AGAIX. 



holding, very rightly, that life without experiences 
was not worth the having. And of experiences he 
had plenty. He lived like a lord so long as his money 
lasted, and when he went afloat again he was shipped 
in a lordly state of drunkenness ; but once the anchor 
was weighed his was a slave's existence. Not that any 
word of his hardships escaped him ; he took them as 
inseparable from a seaman's life ; and, indeed, once the 
first rapture of his home-coming was over, the sea 
unfailingly claimed him again. And when ashore all 
his talk was of battles and storms ; he damned 
Bonaparte, believed that one Englishman could thrash 
three " darned parley voos," despised land-lubbers, 




i 



86 THE DOVER ROAD 

and sang " Hearts of Oak " with an unction that was 
truh^ admirable. His faihnofs were onl}^ those of a 
free and noble nature, and it is very largely owing 
to his qualities of courage and tenacity that England 
stands where she is to-day. Let us not, however, 
decry, either directly or by implication, the sailors 
who now man our ships. They live in more peaceful 
times, and have neither the discomforts nor the 
hard knocks that were distributed so largel}^ 
years ago ; but they ha^c approved themselves no 
whit less stalwart than their ancestors who wore 
pigtails, fought like devils ; talked of Rodney, 
Nelson, Trafalgar, and the Nile, and finally dis- 
appeared somewhere about the time of the Battle 
of Navarino. 

It was for the delight and to secure the custom of 
these very full-blooded heroes that these old taverns 
with signs so nautical and bowling-greens so enticing 
were planted so frequently on this very sea-salty road, 
and now that the humblest traveller finds it cheaper to 
pay a railway-fare than to walk, they look, many of 
them, not a little forlorn. As for the " Lord Nelson," 
at Chalk, I fear it lies too near London suburbs to 
last much longer. Already, on Bank Holidays, when 
the Cockney comes to Gravesend, literally in his 
thousands, riotous parties adventure thus far, and 
dance in the dusty highwa^^ to sounds of concertina 
and penny whistle. Their custom will doubtless 
enrich the place, and presently a gin-palace will be 
made of what is now a very romantic and unusual 
inn, grey and time-stained ; its red roof-tiles thickly 
overgrown with moss and house-leek, and its gables 
bent and bowed with years. 



XVIII 

There is little to see or remark upon in the three 
miles between Chalk and Gad's Hill. Two old roadside 



GAD'S HILL 87 

inns, each claiming to be a " half-way house " ; 
a lane that leads off to the right, towards the village 
of Shorne ; a windmill, without its sails, standing on 
the brow of a singular hill ; these, together with the 
great numbers of men and women working in the 
fields, are all the noticeable features of the road 
until one comes up the long, gradual ascent to the 
top of Gad's Hill. 

Gad's Hill is at first distinctly disappointing ; 
perhaps all places of pilgrimage must on acquaintance 
be necessarily less satisfactory than a lively fancy 
has painted them. How very often, indeed, does not 
one exclaim on standing before world-famed sites, 
'' Is this all ? " 

The stranger comes unawares upon Gad's Hill. 
The ascent is so gradual that he is quite unprepared 
for the shock that awaits him when he comes in sight 
of a house and two spreading cedars that can scarce 
be other than Charles Dickens' home. He has seen 
them pictured so often that there can surely be no 

mistake ; and yet He feels cheated. Is this, 

then, the famous hill where travellers were wont to be 
robbed ? Is this the place referred to by that 
seventeenth-century robber turned litterateur, John 
Clavell, who, in his " Recantation of an Ill-led Life," 
speaks so magniloquently of — 

Gad's Hill, and those 
Red tops of mountains, where good people lose 
Their ill kept purses. 

Was it here, then, upon this paltry pimple of a hill 
that Falstaff and Prince Hal, Poins and the rest of 
them, robbed the merchants, the franklins, and the 
flea-bitten carriers, who, Charles's Wain being over 
the chimneys of their inn at Rochester, set out early 
in the morning for London ? Was this the spot 
where Falstaff, brave amid so many confederates, 
added insult to injury of those travellers by calling 
them " gorbellied knaves " and " caterpillars," and 



88 THE DOVER ROAD 

where Prince Henry, in his turn, alluded to the knight 
as " fat guts " ? Yes, this is the place, but how 
changed from then ! To see Gad's Hill as it was in 
those times it would be necessary to sweep away the 
rows of mean cottages that form quite a hamlet here, 
together with Gad's Hill Place, the hedges and 
enclosures, and to clothe the hillsides with dense 
woodlands, coming close up to, and overshadowing 
the highway, which should be full of ruts and sloughs 
of mud. Then we should have some sort of an idea 
how terrible the hill could be o'nights when the rogues* 
who lurked in the shadow of the trees pounced upon 
rich travellers, and, tricked out in 

vizards, hoods, disguise. 
Masks, muzzles, mufflers, patches on their eyes ; 
Those beards, those heads of liair, and that great wen 
Which is not natural, 

relieved them of their gold. 

And not only rogues of low estate, but others of 
birth and education, pursued this hazardous industry, 
so that Shakespeare, when he made the Prince of 
Wales and Sir John Falstaff appear as highwaymen 
on this scene, was not altogether drawing upon his 
imagination. Thus, when the Danish Ambassador 
was set upon and plundered here in 1656, they were 
not poor illiterates who sent him a letter the next 
day in which they took occasion to assure him that 
" the same necessity that enforc't ye Tartars to 
breake ye wall of China compelled them to wait on 
him at Gad's Hill." But travellers did not always 
tamely submit to be robbed and cudgelled, as you 
shall see in these extracts from Gravesend registers 
— " 1586, September 29th daye, was a thief e yt was 
slayne, buryed ; " and, again, " 1590, Marche, the 
17th dale, was a theefe yt Avas at Gad'shill wounded 
to deathe, called Robert Writs, buried." 

Gad's Hill is not only memorable for the robberies 

* " Gad's," i.e. " rogues," Hill. 



MURDER 89 

committed on its miry ways. Its story rises to 
tragic heights with the murder, on the night of 
October 15, 1661, of no less a person than a foreign 
Prince, Cossuma Albertus, Prince of Transylvania. 
This unfortunate Prince, who was on a visit to 
England to seek aid from Charles the Second against 
the Germans, was approaching Rochester, apparently 
on his return to the Continent, when his coach stuck 
fast in the October mud of Gad's Hill. He had 
already experienced the villainous nature of our high- 
ways, and so, knowing that it would be impossible 
to proceed further that evening, he resigned himself 
to sleeping a night on the road. Having wrapped 
himself up as warmly as possible, he fell off to sleep, 
whereupon his coachman, one Isaac Jacob, a Jew, 
took his sword and stabbed him to the heart, and, 
calling upon the footman, this precious pair completed 
the tragedy by dragging the body out of the coach, and, 
cutting off the head, flinging the mutilated remains in a 
neighbouring ditch. 

The first tidings of this inhuman murder were 
brought to a Rochester physician, who, riding past 
the spot some days afterwards, was horrified by his 
dog bringing him a human arm in his mouth. Meanwhile 
the murderers had possessed themselves of the Prince's 
clothes, together with a large sum of money he had 
with him, and, dragging the coach out of the ruts, had 
driven back to Greenhithe, where they left coach and 
horses to be called for. Not long afterwards, they 
were arrested in London, and, being brought before the 
Lord Mayor, the footman made a full confession. 
The trial took place at Maidstone, where Isaac Jacob, 
coachman, and Casimirus Karsagi, footman, were 
sentenced to death, the first being hanged in chains at 
the scene of the crime. The body of the ill-fated 
Prince of Transylvania was buried in the nave of 
Rochester Cathedral. 

Sixteen years later, we come to the ex])loits of that 
ingenious highwayman, Master Nicks, who, one 



90 THE DOVER ROAD 

morning in 1676, so early as four o'clock, committed 
a robbery on this essentially " bad eminence," upon 
the person of a gentleman, who, from some unexplained 
reason, was crossing the hill at that unearthly hour. 
This, by the way, seems to disprove the wisdom of the 
early worm, who, to be caught, must of necessity be 
up still earlier than that ornithological Solon, the early 
bird. 'Tis a nice point. 

However, Master Nicks, w^ho was mounted on a bay 
mare, effectually despoiled the traveller and rode away, 
reaching York on the afternoon of the same day. 
Dismounting there at an inn, he changed his riding- 
clothes and repaired to the bowling-green, where he 
found the Lord Mayor of York playing bowls with 
several other tradesmen. The artful rogue, in order to 
fix himself, the date, and the hour in that magistrate's 
memory, made a bet with him upon the game, took an 
opportunity to ask him the time, and by some means 
contrived to give him occasion to bear in mind the day 
of the month, in case he should chance to be arrested 
on suspicion of the affair. Sure enough, he was 
apprehended some time later, and when put upon his 
trial the jury acquitted him, as they held it impossible 
for a man to be at two places so remote in one day. 
After his acquittal, all danger being past, he confessed 
the truth of the matter to the judge, already doubtful 
of the jury's wisdom, and the affair coming to the 
knowledge of Charles the Second, his Majesty eke- 
named this speedy road-agent " Swiftnicks." This 
name conceals the identity of John, or William, 
Nevison, who was executed on Knavcsmire, York, in 
1685. His exploit in thus riding from near Rochester 
to York is the original of the later, inferior and wholly 
fictitious story of Dick Turpin's ride from London to 
York, on Black Bess ; an exploit never performed 
by him. 

One presently becomes more tolerant of Gad's Hill, 
for, coming to Charles Dickens' house and the old 
" Falstaff " inn, almost opposite, there opens a view 



MRS. LYNN LINTON 91 

over the surrounding country that is really fine, and 
the road goes down, too, towards Strood, in a manner 
eminently picturesque. The story is well known of 
how, even when but a " queer small boy," Dickens 
always had a great desire to, some day, be the owner 
of the place, and how his father, who would take him 
jiast here on country walks from Chatham, told him 
that if he " were to be very persevering, and were to 
work hard," he might some day come to live in it ; 
but it is not equally a matter of common knowledge 
that the house had been also the object of an equal 
affection, years before, to the Reverend Mr. Lynn, 
father of Mrs. Lynn Linton, who tells us how her early 
years were spent here, and how, when her father died, 
it was she who sold the estate to the novelist. She 
gives also a most picturesque account of Gad's Hill in 
those times. The coaches were still running when 
Mrs. Lynn Linton, as a girl, lived here. 

" Gad's Hill House stands a little way back from the 
road. The grand highway between London and 
Dover, not to speak of betAveen Gravesend and 
Rochester, it was as gay as an approach to a metropolis. 
Ninety-two public coaches and pleasure-vans used to 
pass in the day, not counting the private carriages of 
the grandees posting luxuriously to Dover for Paris and 
the grand tour. Soldiers marching or riding to or from 
Chatham and Gravesend, to embark for India, or on 
their return journey home ; ships' companies paid off 
that morning, and cruising past the gates, shouting and 
singing and comporting themselves in a generally 
terrifying manner, being, for the most part, half-seas 
over, and a trifle beyond ; gipsies and travelling 
tinkers ; sturdy beggars with stumps and crutches ; 
Savoyards with white mice, and organ-men with a 
wonderful wax doll, two-headed and superbly dressed, 
in front of their machines ; chimney-sweepers, with a 
couple of shivering, little, half-naked climbing boys 
carrying their bags and brushes ; and costermongers, 
whose small, flat carts were drawn by big dogs, were 



92 THE DOVER ROAD 

also among the accidents and circumstances of the time. 
. . . Old Mr. Weller* was a real person, and we 
knew him. He was ' Old Chumley ' in the flesh, and 
drove the stage daily from Rochester to London, 
and back again." 




GAD'S HILL PLACE. RESIDEXCE OF CHARLES DICKEXS. 

It was here, then, that Dickens lived from 1856 to his 
death, on June 9, 1870, and thus Gad's Hill is, for many, 
doubly a place of pilgrimage. And, truly, the whole 
course of the Dover Road is rich in memories of him 
and of the characters he drew with such a flow of 
sentimentality ; and sentiment is more to the English- 
man than is generally supposed. Hence that amazing 
popularity which is only just now being critically 
inquired into, weighed and appraised, Dickens was a 
man of commanding genius. His observation was 
acute, and he reproduced with so photographic a 
fidelity the life and times of his early years that the 
" manners and customs of the English," during the 
first third of the nineteenth century, find no such 

* One ol the many originals of " Samivel's father " put forward. One was 
supposed to have been at Bath, another at Dorking ; and others still have 
claims to have originated this humorous character. 



DICKENS 93 

luminous exponent as he. When, if indeed ever, the 
Pickwick Papers cease to amuse, they will still afford 
by far the most valuable evidence that could possibly 
exist as to the ways and thoughts, the social life and 
the conditions of travel, that immediately preceded 
the railway era. Superficial critics may hold that the 
most humorous book of the century is but a succession 
of scenes, with little real sequence and no plot ; they 
may also say that Mr. Pickwick, Messrs. Tupman, 
Snodgrass, Winkle, and the rest of that glorious 
company, were " idiots," but for genuine fun and 
frolic that book is still pre-eminent, and none of the 
" new humorists," with their theories and criticisms 
of the " old humour," have approached within a 
continent or so of it. Not that Dickens' methods 
were irreproachable. It was his pleasure in all his 
books to give his characters allusive names by which 
you were supposed to recognise their attributes at once. 
It is thus upon the stage, in pantomime or farce, that 
the clown's painted grin and the low^-comedian's 
ill-fitting clothes, red hair, and redder nose, proclaim 
their qualities before a word is spoken, and when 
Dickens calls a pompous fraud " Pecksniff," a vulgar 
Cockney clerk " Guppy," or a shifty, irresponsible, 
resourceful person " Swiveller," we know at once, 
before we read any further, pretty much what their 
characters will be like. This, of course, is not art ; it 
is an entirely indefeasible attempt to claim your 
sympathies or excite your aversions at the outset, 
independently of the greater or less success with 
which the author portrays their habits afterwards. 
We must, however, do Dickens the justice both to 
allow that he needed no such adventitious aids to the 
understanding of his characters, and to recognise that 
this kind of nomenclature was not i^eculiarly his own, 
but very largely the literary fashion of his time. 

The pranks of Falstaff and Prince Hal, whose doings 
were to be " argument for a week, laughter for a month, 
and a good jest for ever," are commemorated, in a 



9i 



THE DOVER ROAD 



fashion, by a large roadside inn, the " Falstaff," 
standing nearl}^ opposite Gad's Hill Place, the 
successor, built in the time of Queen Anne, of a lonely 
beerhouse, the resort of characters more than question- 
able ; more than kin to highwaymen, and much less 
than kind to unprotected wayfarers. 

1/ 




THE " FALSTAFF," GAD'S HILL. 



From here the road goes steepl}^ all the way to 
Strood, over Coach and Horses' Hill, and through a 
deep cutting made by the Highway Board about 1830, 
in order to ease the heavy pull up from Rochester ; 
a cutting known at that time as '' Davies' Straits," 
from the name of the chairman of the Board, the 
Rev. George Davies. The view here, over house-tops 
toward the Medway, framed in on either side by this 
hollow road, is particularly fine, and I think I cannot 
come through Strood into Rochester without quoting a 
certain lieutenant who, with a captain and an 
" ancient " (by which last we understand " ensign " 
to be meant), travelled in these parts in 1635. " I am 



STROOD 95 

to passe," says he, " to Rochester, and in the midway 
I fear'd no robbing, although I passed that woody, and 
high old robbing Hill (Gadds Hill), on which I alighted, 
and tooke a sweet and delightfull prospect of that faire 
streame, with her pleasant meads she glides through." 
The lieutenant's description is delightful, and if he 
drew the sword to such good purpose as he wielded 
the pen, why, I think he must have been a warrior of 
no little distinction. He says nothing of Strood ; 
and, indeed, I think Strood has through the centuries 
been entreated in quite a shabby and inadequate 
manner. The reason of this, of course, is that Strood 
is over the water and suburban to Rochester ; a kind of 
poor relation so to speak, and treated accordingly. 

But the place is old and historic, and celebrated 
not only for the great fight which the barons made 
in the thirteenth century against the king, when they 
fought their way across the bridge, and, taking 
possession of Rochester, sacked town, castle, and 
cathedral, but also for that exploit of the townsfolk 
who cut off the tail of one of Becket's sumpter-mules, 
whereupon that wrathful prelate cursed them, and 
caused them and their descendants to go with tails for 
ever. Thus the story which accounts for the county 
nickname of " Kentish long-tails," but I do not perceive 
that the Strood folks are so unusually decorated. 
Perhaps they are at pains to hide their shame. 



XIX 

Strood, too, deserves some notice. The place-name 
has been thought to derive from strata, " the street," 
standing as it does on that ancient way, the Roman 
Watling Street. But, in the recent advance in the 
study of place-names, it is held to be from the Anglo- 
Saxon " strode " : a marshy region. 

The original meaning of " Watling Street " is never 



96 THE DOVER ROAD 

likely to be determined to the satisfaction of all 
antiquaries, and its age is equally a contested point. 
But that a street or a trackway of some kind, of an 
identical route with the present highway, ran between 
London and Dover long before Caesar landed can 
scarce be matter for doubt. That the Britons were 
barbaric and unused to commerce or intercourse with 
the Continent can scarcely be supposed, for Britain 
was the Sacred Island of the Druidical religion, and 
to it came the youth of Gaul for instruction at the 
hands of those high priests Avhose Holy of Holies 
lay, across the land, in remote Anglesey. Those 
priests were the instructors, both in religion and 
secular knowledge, of the Gaulish youth ; and, outside 
the civilisations of Greece and Rome, Britain was even 
then the best place to acquire a " liberal education." 
Up the rugged trackway of the Sarn Gwyddelin = the 
Foreigners' Road, from Dover to London, and 
diagonally across the island, came these youths ; and 
down it, to voyage across the Channel, and to take part 
with their Gaulish friends in any fighting that might be 
going, went those tall British warriors whose strength 
and fierceness surprised Ciesar in his Gallic War. 

Imports and exports, too, passed along this rough 
way ; skins and gold, British hunting-dogs and slaves 
were shipped to Gaul and Rome by merchants who, 
to keep the trade unspoiled, magnified the dangers 
of the sea-crossing and the fierceness of the people. 
Pottery, glass-beads, and cutlery they imported in 
return ; and this primitive " road " must have pre- 
sented a busy scene long before it could ha\x deserved 
the actual name. 

When Cicsar, eager for spoil and conquest, marched 
across country from Deal, and first saw the Sarn 
Gwyddelin from the summit of Barham Downs, it 
could have been but a track, never built, but gradually 
brought into existence by the tramping of students 
and fighting-men, and widened by the commerce of 
those exclusive merchants. Thus it remained for 



WATLING STREET 97 

at lead ninety-eight years longer ; rough, full of holes, 
mires, and swamps, and crossed by many streams. 
Caesar came and went ; and not until Aulus Plautius 
and Claudius had overrun Britain, and probably not 
before many successive Roman governors had served 
here, and reduced this province of Britannia Prima to 
the condition of a settled and prosperous colony, was 
the Foreigners' Road made a via strata, a paved Roman 
Military Way. 

Its date might be anything from the landing of 
Aulus Plautius, in a.d. 45, to the time of Hadrian, 
the greatest of all road-builders, a.d. 120. Then it 
became a true " street," made in the thorough manner 
described by Vitruvius, and paved throughout with 
stone blocks ; the " strata " from which the word 
" street " is derived. 

Engineered with all that road-making science which, 
not less than their victories, has rendered the Romans 
famous for all time, the Watling Street, as the Romans 
left it, stretched from sea to sea. Starting from their 
three great harbour fortresses on the Kentish coast — 
from Rutupice, Partus dubris, and Lemanis, Englished 
now as Richborough, Dover, and Lympne — it converged 
in three branches upon their first inland camp and 
city of Diirovernwn, where Canterbury now stands. 
Proceeding thenceforward on the lines of the present 
Dover Road, the Roman road came to their next 
station of Durolevum, whose site no antiquary has 
fixed convincingly, but which might have been at 
either Sittingbourne, Ospringe, Davington, or Key 
Street. Thence it reached Durohrivae, which was 
certainly on the site of Rochester. Crossing the 
Medway by a trajectus, or perhaps even by a bridge of 
either stone or wood, the road passed through Strood, 
and branched off through Cobham, coming again to 
the modern highway at Dartford Brent. Perhaps it 
even had two branches here, one touching the river at 
Vagniacae, probably both Northfleet and Southfleet ; 
and the other keeping, as we have seen, inland until a 



98 THE DOVER ROAD 

junction was effected near Dartford. But Avith its 
proximity to London, the story and the geography of 
WatHng Street grow not a httle confused. Where, for 
instance, the succeeding station of Noviomagus was 
situated no one can say with certainty. It might have 
been at Keston ; it probably was at Crayford ; or there 
inight have been two branches again, as some anti- 
quaries suggest. Through London, the Wathng Street 
went across England, past St. Albans and Wroxeter, 
and finally to Segontium, or the hither side of the 
Menai Straits, throwing off a branch to Deva, Chester. 

This and other great roads grew gradually to per- 
fection throughout the country for four hundred years. 
Towns and military stations dotted them at intervals, 
and in between the abodes of men the way was lined, 
after the custom of the Roman people, with tombs 
and cemeteries. This explains the many '' finds " 
of sepulchral urns and various relics beside the road. 

When the Saxons came, they could not pronounce 
the name by which the half-Roman people called this 
road, and so " Gwyddelin " became " watling " on 
their tongues, while " strata " was corrupted to 
" street." No new roads were made now, and, 
indeed, not until the Turnpike Acts of George the 
Third's time and the era of MacAdam was the art of 
road-making practised again in England. For ages 
the " roads " of this country were a byword and 
a reproach to us. By the middle of the twelfth 
century the Roman roads that had been made and 
kept in repair for hundreds of years fell into ruin, 
and the detritus and miscellaneous accumulations of 
twenty-five generations now cover the greater portion 
of them. At a depth varying from five to fourteen, 
and even eighteen, feet, excavators have come upon 
the hard surface of the original Roman road, and 
mosaic pavements of villas found at that extreme 
depth attest how the surface of a country may be 
altered only by the gradual deposit of vegetable 
matter. The thickest deposits are found in low-lying 



THE OLD ROADS 99 

situations, where the flow of streams or rain-water 
has brought hquid earth to settle upon the deserted 
sites of an ancient civiHsation. This has occurred 
notably at such places as Dartford, Rochester, and 
Canterbury, all situated in deep valleys, where 
springs and storms have united to bring mud, sand, 
and gravel down from the hillsides, and thus to 
equalise in some measure the ancient irregularities 
of the scenery. While the hollows have thus been 
rendered less profound, the hill-tops and table-lands 
have remained very much as they were, and it is 
in these elevated situations that the line of Watling 
Street can most readily be traced, or could have been 
had not the stone pavings that composed the road 
been long ages ago abstracted. 

This long neglect of the roads made country journeys 
exceedingly difficult and dangerous. Travellers' tales 
in England during six or seven centuries are concerned 
with two great evils ; highway robbery and the 
shocking state of the roads ; and so deep and dangerous 
were some of the quagmires that, rather than attempt 
to cross them, coachmen would drive through wayside 
fields, and thus make a road for themselves. It was in 
this way that ancient highways became diverted, and 
the pedestrian Avho finds the route between two towns 
to be extraordinarily circuitous must often look to 
these circumstances for an explanation. The southern 
counties bore a bad reputation for impassable roads 
until about se^'enty years ago, and Kentish miles were 
long linked with Essex stiles and Norfolk wiles as 
prime causes of begu'.lement ; while the fertility of 
Kentish soil is joined with the muddy character of 
Kentish roads in two old county proverbs. Thus, 
" Bad for the rider, good for the abider,' expressed 
truths obvious enough to those who came this way 
a hundred years ago ; and " There is good land where 
there is foul way " would have said much for the 
excellence of Kent, where all the ways were foul. 
But if the traveller was not a landed gentleman, 



100 THE DOVER ROAD 

except in the sense that he was generally covered with 
nmd from head to foot, the reflection that the county 
through which he waded deep in slush must be singularly 
fertile could scarce have afforded him much consolation 
for lost time and spoiled clothes. Here is a tale of an 
unfortunate horseman bogged on these miscalled 
" roads " which is quite eloquent of what old-time 
wayfaring was like. He comes to a suspicious-looking 
slough and hesitates. " Is there a good bottom here, 
my man ? " he asks of a country joskin regarding him 
with a wide smile. " Oo-ah ! yes, there's a good 
bottom to un," replies the countryman, and the 
traveller urges on his Avay until, within a yard or so, 
his horse sinks to the girth in liquid mud. " I thought 
you said there was a good bottom to this road," shouts 
the traveller. " Yes," rejoins the rustic, " soo there 
ees, but you a'n't coom to un yit, master." 



XX 

Stkood is one long street of miscellaneous houses, 
with fields and meadows running up to the back- 
yards ; with engine-shops, mills, wheelwrights, and 
a variety of other noisy trades clanging and clattering 
in the rear, and an old church on the hillside to the left, 
appropriately dedicated to that patron of thieves and 
sailor-men, Saint Nicholas. But whether or no 
" Saint Nicholas' clerks " looked in here to pray the 
saint to send them " rick franklins and great oneyers " 
across that " high old robbing hill," I should not like 
to say ; having though, the while, a shrewd suspicion 
that their piety was somewhat to seek, and that the 
shrine of the saint profited but little, if at all, from their 
ill-gotten gains upon the road. 

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the old 
houses here and at Rochester, and, indeed, along a 
great portion of the Dover Road, is the great use 



"CRISPIN AND CRISPIANUS" 101 

of weather-boarding, chiefly on the upper storeys. 
An instance of this is seen at Strood at an inn, the 
" Crispin and Crispianus," standing in the main 
street. A still more interesting point about this old 
house is its pictorial swinging sign, overhanging the 
pathway — a representation of the two shoemaker 
brothers, Crispin and Crispian, at work, cobbling boots. 
The brothers were Christian martyrs who suffered 
death at Soissons, a.d. 287. How they came to serve 
as the sign of an inn is quite unknown. It has been 
suggested that, as Aglncourt was i'ought on Saint 
Crispin's Day, this old sign is of the warlike and 
patriotic order to which belong the Waterloo, 
Wellington, Nelson, Alma, and Trafalgar signs that 
are so plentiful on this road ; but it is a great deal 
more likely that it is a relic of the days when men 
made pilgrimages to Becket's shrine, when innkeepers 
found their account to he in calling their houses after 
some popular saint or another. 

A curious incident in connection with the " Crispin 
and Crispianus " must be noted before we pass on. 
It happened in 1830. One night ii: September of 
that year, a doctor who had only just then commenced 
practice in Strood was called in to see a man lying 
at the point of death in an upper room of the old inn. 
He hastened to the place, aid found a man lying in 
bed who told him that, although he was known only 
as an ostler, he was really the Earl of Coleraine, nephew 
of that notorious Colonel Hanger who is chiefly known 
as the riotous boon-companion of the Prince Regent in 
the early days of Brighton and the Pavilion. Colonel 
Hanger was the fourth earl, and succeeded his brother 
in the title, which he never assumed. He died, 
childless, in 1824, and the earldom became extinct. 
As Colonel Hanger was the youngest son of his father, 
and as no mention has ever been made of any of his 
elder brothers leaving sons, the matter is not a little 
mysterious, especially as the colonel's right to the 
title, had he chosen to use it, was not disputed. 



102 THE DOVER ROAD 

However, the strange man who died on September 
20, 1830, at the " Crispin and Crispianus " apparently 
satisfied Doctor Humphrey Wickham of the truth 
of his story, and that his real name was Charles 
Parrott Hanger, instead of " Charley Roberts," by 
which he had been knov/n at Strood and the neighbour- 
hood for twenty years. During this time he had acted 
as ostler at the coaching inns of Rochester and 
Chatham ; had tramped the country, selling laces, 
thread, tape, and other small wares ; and on Sundays 
shaved labourers. He had deserted his wife years 
before. She was long dead, and he had a son 
apprenticed to a firm of ironmongers at Birmingham. 
To this son he left all he was possessed of, makii.g 
the doctor his executor. It will not be imagined 
that this ex-ostler, dying in a room of the " Crispin 
and Crispianus," where he was lodged by the landlady 
out of charity, had anything to bequeath ; but the 
doctor paid over, as executor, the sum of £1000 to 
Charles Henry Hanger, the son of this eccentric. 



XXI 

And so, as Mr. Samuel Pepys might say, into 
Rochester. 

Rochester was to Dickens variously " Mudfog," 
" Great Winglebury," " Dullborough," and " Cloister- 
ham." It cannot be said that any of these names 
form anything like an adequate word-picture of the 
place. As names, they vary from good to indifferent, 
and very bad, but none of them shadow forth the 
real Rochester, which is rather a busy place than other- 
wise : none, for instance, are so happily descriptive 
as that under which a waggish fellow introduced a 
wealthy distiller to an assemblage of Polish notables — as 
" Count Caskowisky." I might pluck a feather from 
Dickens' wing with which to furnish forth a wounding 



ROCHESTER 103 

shaft, and say of Rochester, under any of those 
pseudonyms, as Trabbs' boy said in another connection 
(and vet not deserve the title of " unhmited miscreant,") 
" Don't know yah ! " 

The somnolent place which Dickens drew — its 
High Street a narrow lane, its houses abodes of gloom 
and mystery — has not much existence in fact. It is, 
of course, heresy to say so (but it is none the less true), 
that although no other place was probably so well 
known to Dickens, and that from his youth upward, 
yet he never caught the true note of Rochester. That 
he loved the place seems obvious enough, but his was 
not the Gothic, mediaeval temperament that could 
really appreciate it aright. The test of this is found in 
the fact that although Dickens has written many 
glowing pages on Rochester, and apparenth^ yielded to 
none in his admiration for the old city, yet its appear- 
ance is far more beautiful to the stranger learned in 
Dickens-lore than anything he is prepared to see. 

Busy, beautiful Rochester, and none the less 
beautiful because busy. The traveller who first sees 
the old place, its castle and cathedral and the turbid 
Medway, from Strood, is fortunate in his approach, 
and will never forget the grand picture it makes. 
To his right stretches away for miles the broad valley 
of the Medway, with bold hills crowned with windmills, 
above, and the stream, diminishing in long perspective, 
below ; ^\dth jutting promontories where the factory- 
chimneys of Borstal and Wouldham stand up, clustered 
like the stalks of monstrous vegetables, and the red- 
sailed barges that drop down with wind and tide. 
Before him rise the great keep, the cathedral, and the 
clustered red roofs of the cit^^ with a glimpse of the 
High Street, the Town Hall and its great vane — a 
full-rigged ship — at the other end of the bridge. 
And all the while to his left is the shrieking and the 
screaming of the trains, rolling in thunder over the two 
railway bridges that absolutely shut out and ruin the 
view down the stream. The bustle, roar, and rattle of 



104 THE DOVER ROAD 

the trains, the busy, yet silent, traffic of the river, the 
smoke rising in wreaths from those distant chimneys 
of Wouldham and Borstal, all bespeak labour and 
commerce, and all these rumours of a busy community 
blend finely with the shattered majesty of that ancient 
Castle, the solemnity of the Cathedral, and the noisy, 
yet restful, carving of the raucous rooks who circle round 
about those lofty battlements, their outcry mingled 
with the sobbing, moaning voices of the pigeons, 
and the shrill piping of querulous sea-birds. 

The bridge over which Mr. Pickwick leaned and 
meditated while waiting for breakfast has gone the 
way of many another old building referred to in that 
book which will presently have a quite unique 
archaeological value, so changed are the varied 
haunts of the Pickwickians. Necessity, they say, 
the call of progress, demanded the removal of the fine 
stone bridge of eleven arches that had spanned the 
Medway so efficiently for five centuries, and it was 
removed in 1856 ; but how cruel the necessity, and 
how heavy a toll we pay for our progression perhaps 
only those who had stood upon the ancient ways can 
tell. The masonry was so strong that it was found 
necessary to blow it up. 

Meanwhile, we must clear our minds from a very 
reasonable prejudice, and acknowledge that, as an 
example of modern engineering, the new Rochester 
Bridge is very fine. It is of iron, broad and graceful 
as its iron construction will allow, and it spans the 
river in three great arches. It cost £160,000, exclusive 
of approaches, to build, and was opened in 1856. The 
old bridge had a protecting balustrade which more or 
less effectually saved the lieges from being blown by 
furious winds into the water. Before the balustrade 
there were high iron railings, which were fixed according 
to the French Ambassador, the Due de Nivernais, 
" so that drunkards, not uncommon here, may not 
mix water with their wine." 

That the balustrade was not very greatly to be relied 



ROCHESTER 105 

upon, and that Mr. Pickwick, bulky man as he was, 
ran a considerable risk when he leaned over the 
parapet, may be gathered when we read that on a night 
in 1836 a storm demolished a great stretch of it, and 
that the Princess Victoria, who was coming up the road 
from Dover, was content to be advised to stay over- 
night at the " Bull," rather than attempt to cross 
over to Strood. The riverside wore a somewhat 
different aspect then. Low and broken cliffs 
picturesquely shelved down to the water's edge where 
a neat embankment now runs, and the balustrades 
of the old bridge serve their old purpose on this new 
river- wall. The embankment is an improvement 
from an utilitarian point of view, but its long straight 
line hurts the artistic sense. 

The stranger should come into Rochester preferably 
on the evening of a summer's day, and, as first 
impressions must ever remain the most distinct, he 
should walk in over the bridge. At such times a 
golden haze spreads over the city and the river, and 
renders both a dream of beauty. The gilt ship on 
the Town Hall blazes like molten metal ; the " moon- 
faced clock " of the Corn Exchange is correspondingly 
calm, and the wide entrance-halls of the older inns 
begin to glow with light. You should have walked 
a good fifteen miles or more on the day of your first 
coming into Rochester, and then you will appreciate 
aright the mellow comforts of its old inns. But not 
at once will the connoisseur of antiquity and first 
impressions who thus enters the old city repair him 
to his inn. He will turn into the Cathedral precincts 
underneath the archway of Chertsey's Gate, and I 
hope he will not already have read Edwin Drood, 
because an acquaintance with that tale quite spoils 
one's Rochester, and leaves an ineffaceable mark of a 
modern sordid tragedy upon the hoary stones of 
Cathedral, Castle, and Close. It is as though one had 
come to the place after reading the unrelieved brutality 
of a newspaper report. Rochester demands a romance 



106 THE DOVER ROAD 

of the Ivanhoe type ; chivalry or necessities of State 
should have ennobled slaughter here, but a tale of 
secret murder for private ends vulgarises and tarnishes 
the place, especially when it is told with all Dickens' 
wealth of local allusion. He had no comprehension 
of tragedy and romance other than those of the street 
and the police-court ; which is to say that he had 
better have left Rochester alone, so far as the Mystery 
of Edzvin Drood is concerned. 

If my imaginary traveller comes to Rochester 
without having read that tale he will be singularly 
fortunate. Otherwise he will have an uneasy feeling 
as he stands and gazes a moment upon the west 
front of the Cathedral, or peeps into the nave, that 
it ought to be re-consecrated. This, of course, is 
a tribute to Dickens' descriptive and narrative poAvers 
that clothe the doings of his characters with so great 
an air of reality ; but how unfortunate for those who 
like their murders to be decently old and historical 
that he should have brought the atmosphere of the 
police-court into the grave and reverend air of this 
ancient city. 

My traveller, happily unversed in all this, will gaze 
upon the Cathedral and the Castle Keep, where the 
rooks are circling to rest, and, coming again into the 
High Street, will turn to his inn, where appetite, 
sharpened by pedestrianism and fresh air, may be 
appeased as well now as in those days of heavy drinking 
and no less heavy eating, when seventy-two coaches 
passed through Rochester daily and the trains that 
thuiKier across the Medway were undreamt of. 

The inns of Rochester receive, as may well be 
supposed, many pilgrims who for love of Chaucer, 
Shakespeare, and Dickens, come hither, not alone 
frpm all parts of England, but from America, and 
even from foreign-speaking countries, and the visitors' 
books testify not only to their opinions of the place 
but also of each other. Thus at one inn I read the 
signatures of a party of Germans, to which some 



THE "BULL" 107 

prejudiced Briton, after sundry offensive remarks 
about foreigners in general and Germans in particular, 

adds, " They are everywhere, d n them ! " But I 

must confess that the following surprised me, even 
after a long acquaintance with the inanities of visitors' 
books. Some one had remarked " How like Rochester 
Cathedral was to a Catholic Church," whereupon some 
other idiot adds, " Of course it is Catholic, but not 
Roman Catholic." Really one scarcely knows whom 
to pity most. 

The " Bull " inn (how remarkably like its frontage 
is to that other " Bull " at Dartford) is much the 
same now as when Dickens wrote of it ; only there 
.are portraits of Dickens hanging on the staircase 
now, and the ball-room, with its " elevated den," is 
a place of solitude. They still show j^ou the rooms 
where Winkle and Mr. Pickwick slej^t, as though 
they were real people, and so great an affection do 
the members of the Pickwick Club command, that, 
while pointing out where Tracy Tupman and 
Mr. Snodgrass danced, the rooms occupied by the 
Princess Victoria are clean forgotten. So literature 
scores a success for once ; but I wdsh a too earnest 
loyalty had not altered the sign from the " Bull Inn " to 
the " Victoria and Bull Hotel " ! The hall is still 
" a very grove of dead game and dangling joints 
of mutton," and the " illustrious larder, with glass 
doors, developing cold fowls and noble joints and 
tarts, wherein the raspberry jam coyly withdraws 
itself, as such a precious creature should, behind a 
lattice- work of j^astry," still whets the appetites of 
incoming guests, just as though England stood where 
she did, and as if our trades were not ruined by 
foreign competition, our industries decayed, the army 
gone to the dogs, the navy to Davy Jones, the farmer 
to the workhouse, and the shoi^keeper to the Bank- 
ruptcy Court, as we are told they have. No doubt all 
these things have happened, or are in course of 
fulfilment, and I suppose the hotel-keepers keep up 



108 THE DOVER ROAD 

their licences merely for the love of licensed victualling, 
while the " commercials " still travel the roads for 
old acquaintance's sake rather than for any business 
that may be doing. How disinterested of them ! 



XXII 

I NOTICE that there is a great tendency among those 
who have to describe Rochester Cathedral to dismiss it 
with the remarks that it is quite small, and that it 
was " restored " in 1825 and 1875. These, of course, 
are the merest ineptitudes of criticism, and if we allowed 
praise or censure to be awarded according to the bulk, 
then that hideous elephantine conventicle, Jezreel's 
Temple, on the summit of Chatham Hill, would easily 
bear away the bell. 

But size has little to do with a right appreciation 
of architecture. Chasteness of proportion, the degree 
of artistry shown alike in details and in the execution 
of the whole, are the sole considerations that shall 
weigh with those who take any sort of an intelligent 
interest in the architecture of cathedrals ; and the 
admiration of a thing that " licks creation " in the 
matter of measurement is senseless if it is not wedded 
to a proper perception of the justness of the parts that 
go to make its bulk. 

The Cathedral of Saint Andrew at Rochester is at 
least equally interesting with that of Canterbury ; 
and that this should be so is only natural, for one is 
the complement of the other. Canterbury was the 
earliest Cathedral in England ; the See of Rochester 
was established immediately afterwards, and was for 
many years not only intimately associated with that 
great metropolitan church, but was actually dependent 
upon it. Then, the early Norman Archbishops and 
Priors of Canterbury and the Bishops and Priors of 
Rochester were often intimate personal friends who 



ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL 109 

had come over together from Normandy to England ; 
and the close relations thus established lasted for many 
years. The See of Rochester was founded by Saint 
Augustine about a.d. 600, and by him the first Bishop 
was consecrated, four years later. 

But when the Norman Conquest brought a new 
era of church building into England, Rochester 
Cathedral was rebuilt. Gundulf, the second Norman 
Bishop, the friend of Anselm and Lanfranc, the 
greatest military and ecclesiastical architect of his 
time, prepared to erect a new and grander edifice 
on the ruins of the Saxon church. The number and 
extent of this great architect's works are simply 
prodigious. How he could have packed into even 
his lengthy life the duties of a Churchman, which 
we are told by those who knew him he never missed 
for a single day ; the cares of statecraft which also 
fell to his lot ; and the building, not only of his 
Cathedral, but also of the Tower of London, Rochester 
Keep, Dartford Church, Mailing Abbey, and minor 
works, we are at a loss to conceive. He was con- 
secrated in 1077 and died in 1108, before he had 
completed his work here. Ernulf, Prior of Canterbury, 
succeeded him, and finished the building, which was 
consecrated in 1130, in the same year that witnessed 
the completion and consecration of Ernulf 's and 
Conrad's new Cathedral at Canterbury. Here, then, 
we see at once the close connection between the 
architectural history of these two neighbouring 
churches. Ernulf had a hand in both ; a very large 
share of the crypt, the west front, and a part of the 
nave of Rochester was his ; while at Canterbury the 
crypt and the choir were built in collaboration with 
Prior Conrad. These facts partly explain the unusual 
and beautiful feature of a choir raised many feet above 
the level of the nave, Avhich is characteristic both 
of Canterbury and Rochester Cathedrals, and seen 
nowhere else in England. And not only in these 
most prominent features of their architectural con- 



110 THE DOVER ROAD 

struct ion are the two buildings alike ; their stories 
run curiously parallel, both in their building and 
in their destruction. Less than fifty years after 
their simultaneous consecration, both churches were 
partly destroyed by fire, and their ruined portions 
rebuilt in the Transitional Norman and Early English 
styles, by those two architects who are supposed to 
be one and the same person — William de Hoo, Bishop 
of Rochester, and that " William the Englishman " 
who succeeded French William of Sens in rebuilding 
the choir of Canterbury. At that time, allowing for 
the great difference in their relative sizes, the two 
Cathedrals must have borne a strong likeness to one 
another ; and when we look upon Ernulf's nave here, 
we look upon the likeness of the nave at Canterbury 
until that period, between 1390 and 1421, when Prior 
Chillendon replaced Lanfranc's work with the light and 
lofty, but exceedingly uninteresting. Perpendicular 
nave that now forms the western end of the Primate's 
Metropolitan Church. 

Fortunately for ourselves, who think Norman work 
not the flower of ecclesiastical architecture, but the 
most interesting and aesthetically satisfying next to 
the incomparable grace of the Early English period, 
Rochester was too poor a See to be able to embark on 
extensive schemes of rebuilding, and we are spared the 
rather vulgar ostentation of skill and wealth to which 
the Perpendicular style lends itself. Little could be 
added to the dignity and solemn majesty, the right 
proportions and impressive simplicity, of this massive 
Norman nave. Here came Cromwell, whose soldiers 
quartered their horses in the aisles, leaving the building 
so desecrated that a saw-pit sunk afterwards in the 
pavements seemed a scarcely worse use of the House of 
God. Here also eighteenth-century monumental 
masons have contrived monuments bad enough, even 
for the surroundings of classic architecture, but no less 
than an affront in this place ; while the half-learnt 
Gothic restorations of Cottingham, whose puerilities 



ST. WILLIAM 



111 



of seventy years ago were seen in the choir, are a 
sorrow to behold. 

A long line of tombs and effigies, from Bishops 
down to a Good Samaritan in seventeenth-century 
costume, carved grotesquely and all out of drawing, 
on the pavement of the Lady Chapel, claim attention, 
and easily first among them is the beautiful coloured 
effigy of Bishop John de Sheppey, discovered, built 
up in his recess, in 1825. The plain tomb of Gundulf 
is shown, and the resting-place of Bishop Walter de 




A GOOD SAMARITAX. 

Merton, drowned while crossing the Medway in a 
boat, 1277. The authorities of Merton College have 
restored and beautified the tomb of their founder, 
and it lies, painted and decorated, near the grave of 
St. William. 

Saint William of Perth was for long the chief glory 
and principal source of income to the Priory and 
monks of Rochester. He was a wealthy Scottish 
baker who, having amassed a fortune, probably both 
by overcharging for his bread and in the giving of 
shoit weight, determined to go on pilgrimage. He 
must have been a superlative rogue and cheat, for 



112 THE DOVER ROAD 

nothing less than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem would 
serve his purpose. However, he never reached the 
Holy City ; for, having arrived at Rochester in 1201, 
and having contributed magnificently to the shrines 
there, he was murdered by his guide while journeying 
hence to Canterbury. At least, so runs the story, 
but I believe the monks themselves did the deed. 
They were exceedingly poor, having by some 
unexplained excesses squandered the wealth which the 
once highly venerated bones of Saint Paulinus had 
brought them, and they had already melted down 
the silver shrine of that Saint to pay their way withal. 
The competition of Canterbury, too, was killing, and 
the fame of Paulinus paled before that of Becket ; and 
so they probably conceived the idea of murdering the 
rich pilgrim in order to obtain at once a remunerative 
martyr of their own, and to i3ut themselves in funds 
with the wealth he carried about with him. If the 
Dean and Chapter of Rochester could in after years 
wilfully api3ropriate to their own uses an annual income 
of several thousands of pounds intended for educational 
purposes, and become thus common thieves and 
peculators, what scruples could be supjDOsed to hinder 
the monks of the dark ages from becoming murderers ? 

The south-east transept has a curious mural monu- 
ment to Richard Watts ; with a coloured and very 
life-like portrait-bust " starting out of it like a ship's 
figure-head," and underneath is a brass to the memory 
of Charles Dickens. On the eastern wall is a medallion 
profile of Joseph Maas, the singer, vulgar and 
amateurish beyond the power of words to tell. 

Rochester Cathedral is not rich in decorative 
carvings, but its two enriched doorways are famous. 
One is the beautiful Norman west door, of five receding 
arches, carved over with a profusion of characteristic 
Norman scrolls ; interlacing patterns ; semi-human 
and half -supernatural figures of appalling build and 
ferocious expression ; and flanked by two statues 
supposed to represent Henry the First and Queen 



ROCHESTER CASTLE 113 

Matilda. The other is the unsurpassed Decorated 
doorway of the Chapter House, whose sculptured 
emblematic figures of the Church, and of angels, priests 
and bishops are at the other, and more beautiful, end 
of decorative art. 

Having seen all these things, the verger who has 
hitherto shepherded his flock of visitors through 
these upper regions, takes them down a flight of 
stone stairs and unlocks the door of the crypt. An 
ancient and mouldy smell rushes up from the dark 
labyrinth of pillars and indistinct arches, and the 
ladies of the party pretend to be terrified. But they 
might just as well be afraid of a coal-cellar, which is 
generally darker and dirtier, for neither bones nor 
coffins, nor anything more awful than a few shattered 
fragments of architectural carvings are to be seen. 
The usual legends current in most old places would 
have us believe that a subterraneous passage runs 
between Castle and Cathedral, and certainly they are 
sufficiently near one another for such a communication 
to have been made ; but these legends have never been 
resolved into fact. Near neighbours they are, and the 
Cathedral has suffered not a little at different times 
from this close proximity. For when Rufus besieged 
the Castle, and when, in 1215 and 1264, it was closely 
invested for respectively three months and a week, the 
Cathedral had its share of the violent doings that 
resulted in the Keep being undermined and the wooden 
bridge of Rochester burned. Gundulfs Tower had not 
been completed when that mighty master-builder died, 
and although it is generally ascribed to him, it seems 
really to have been finished under the supervision of an 
inexperienced architect employed by that Archbishop 
William de Corbeil to whom and his successors of 
Canterbury Henry the Second granted " the perpetual 
charge and constableship of the Castle of Rochester." 
This prelate died in 1139, and the irony of circumstances 
decreed that only one other of the Archbishops to 
whom the " perpetual constableship " was granted 



114 THE DOVER ROAD 

should ever exercise the rights and privileges of the gift. 
This was Stephen Langton. The Castle was found to be 
too important in those times for it to be held by any 
other than the King, and so to the Crown it reverted. 
NoAv that it is ruined and open to the sky the Mayors of 
Rochester are CcV officio constables, and they wear a 
sword on grand occasions as an outward and visible 
sign of their dignity. 

Rochester Keep rises to a height of a hundred 
and twenty-five feet. Walls ranging from ten to 
twelve feet in thickness attest its old-time strength, 
and the ornamentation both of the State apartments, 
and of the Chapel on the third floor, betokens a 
considerable display made in those far-off times. But 
although one of the loftiest Norman keeps extant ; 
though strong and internally ornate, it seems to have 
been built by a copyist of Gundulf who perhaps had 
neither his resources nor his love of a neat and 
workmanlike finish. AVhatever the cause, certain it 
is that here we miss the close- jointed external ashlar 
that we are accustomed to see in such grand con- 
temporary Norman keeps as those of Castle Hedingham 
and Scarborough. Ashlaring has been only sparingly 
used for quoins and dressings of door- and window- 
openings, and the exterior of this keep chiefly shows a 
broad expanse of roughly set Kentish rag-stone. 
The result, although it does not commend itself 
architecturally, is at least bold and rugged and 
altogether satisfying to the artist. 

There is, according to a legend of unknown age, 
a vast treasure buried beneath the ground here ; 
concealed in some mysterious crypt Avhose door may 
only by rarest chance be found. From this door 
hangs a Hand of Glory, and not until the Hand is 
extinguished, finger by finger, can it be forced open. 
Absolute silence is to be observed by the adventurer 
while extinguishing the Blazing Hand, or the mystic 
power is broken. There was once, says a sequel to 
the foregoing legend, a bold and fortunate spirit who 



ROCHESTER BRIDGE 115 

had by some means discovered this hidden door. He 
extinguished the guardian Hand, all but the thumb ; 
and, proceeding to snuff this out also, he uttered an 
incautious exclamation of triumph. The fingers 
instantly burst into flame again, and the man was 
dashed senseless to the ground ; nor was he ever again 
so fortunate as to recover the spot. 



xxni 

Rochester has had many Royal and distinguished 
visitors, and many of them \va,ve left traces of their 
sojourn in more or less quaint, instructive, and 
amusing accounts. When Edward the First came 
here in 1300, he gave seven shillings to the Priory 
for the shrine of Saint William, and twelve shillings 
compensation to one Richard Lamberd whose horse, 
hired for the King's service, was blown over Rochester 
Bridge into the Medway and drowned. On his return 
from Canterbury, nine days later, the King flung his 
shillings about in quite a reckless manner ; giving 
seven shillings each for the shrines of Saints Ithamar 
and Paulinus ; while bang Avent tAventy-one other 
shillings at Chatham, offered to the image of the 
Blessed Mary by the King, the Queen, and the Prince 
of Wales. 

The Bridge at Rochester, over which that unfortunate 
horse was blown, was at this time a crazy structure of 
wood, and so dangerous that most folks preferred 
crossing the Medway by boat. One unfortunate 
minstrel Avas bloAA'n into the Avater just as he reached 
the middle, and he AA'cnt floating doAA'n the stream 
harping the praises of Our Lady upon his harp, and 
calling out for her help at the same time in English, as 
the chronicler remarks — and this Avas his English : — 

Help usvyf, help usvyf, 
Oiyer me — I forga mi lyf. 



116 



THE DOVER ROAD 



By " usvyf " he meant " wife." " Help us, wife," 
which strikes us as being extremely familiar. 

The Holy Mother, notwithstanding this horrid jargon, 
was pleased to save him, and this pious " Harpur a 
Roucestre " landed about a league below the city, 
making his way forthwith to a church to offer up 
thanks, and followed by an immense crowd Avho had 
been watching the proceedings without attempting to 
save him, which is ever the wav of crowds. 




ROCHESTER CASTLE AND THE MEDWAY. 



Fourteen years later, the Queen of Robert Bruce 
was a State prisoner in Rochester Castle, with her 
sister and daughter, and here they remained until 
Bannockburn altered the complexion of affairs. King 
John of France, too, appears here, and in a grateful 
mood, for he was going back to his kingdom, and 
so, to please the saints, made an offering of forty 
crowns (valued at £6 136'. 4(/.) at the Cathedral, 



HENRY MEETS ANNE 117 

departing for " Stiborne," and resting the night at 
Ospringe. Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, passed 
through " Rotschetter " in 1416, with a retinue of a 
thousand knights, on a visit to Henry the Fifth, and 
Henry the Seventh was here in 1492, 1494, and 1498, 
crossing over from Strood in a ferry-boat for which 
he paid £2, an expense which would have been quite 
unnecessary had the authorities kept the Bridge (then 
of stone, and about a century old) in decent repair. 
A few months later than his last visit, the King sent 
the Mayor of the town £5 toward its restoration, for 
funds were low, and the indulgences — to say nothing 
of the forty da3^s' remittances from Purgatory for all 
manner of sins — offered by Archbishop Morton to any 
one who would give towards the work, were but little 
in request. 

Charles the Fifth, Emperor of Germany, was the 
next considerable personage here, and of how great a 
consideration he was may be gathered from the fact 
that he came up the road from Dover with a train of 
two thousand attendants. He and Henry the Eighth, 
who had gone down to Dover to meet him, stayed 
at Rochester on the night of Sunday, June 1, 1522, and 
went on to Gravesend the following day. Eighteen 
years later, the King, already a much-married man, 
came here to have a private view of his new matrimonial 
venture. 

Two accounts are given of this meeting of Henry the 
Eighth and Anne of Cleves. They agree neither with 
themselves nor with that other account in which the 
King is made to call her a " Flanders mare " : — 
" As she passed toward Rochester," writes Hall, the 
Chronicler, " on New Yeres Even, on Reynam Down, 
met her the Duke of Norffolke, and the Lord Dacre 
of the South, and the Lord Mount joye, with a gret 
company of Knyghtes and Esquiers of Norffolke and 
Suffolke, and the Barons of thxchequer, (sic) all in 
coates of velvet with chaynes of golde, which brought 
her to Rochester, where she lay in the Palace all 



118 THE DOVER ROAD 

New Yeres Day. On which day the Kyng, which 
sore desyred to see her Grace, accompanyed with no 
more than viii persons of his prevy chaumbre, and 
both he and thei all aparelled in marble coates, prevely 
came to Rochester, and sodainl}^ came to her presence, 
which therwith was sumwhat astonied ; but after he 
had spoken and welcomed her, she with most gracious 
and lovyng countenance and behavior him received 
and Avelcomed on her knees, whom he gently toke up 
and kyssed ; and all that afternoone commoned and 
devised with her " (whatever that ma}^ mean), " and 
that night suj^ped with her, and the next day he 
departed to Grenewich and she came to Dartford." 
Now hear how different a complexion Stow puts upon 
this meeting, and then tell me what you think of the 
difficulties of history- writing : — 

" The King being ascertained of her arivall and 
approch, was wonderfull desirous to see her, of whom 
hee had heard so great commendations, and there- 
upon hee came very privately to Rochester, where 
hee tooke the first view of her ; and when he had 
well beheld her, hee was so marvelously astonished 
that hee knew not w^ll what to doe or say. Hee 
brought with him divers things, which hee meant 
to present her with his owne hands, that is to say, 
a partlet, a mufler " (Indian shawls had not yet been 
introduced), " a cup, and other things ; but being 
sodainly quite discouraged and amazed with her 
presence, his mind changed, and hee delivered them 
unto Sir Anthony Browne to give them unto her, 
but with as small show of Kingly kindness as might be. 
The King being sore vexed with the sight of her, began 
to utter his heart's griefe unto divers : amongst whom 
hee said unto the Lord Admirall, ' How like you this 
woman ? Doe you think her so personable, faire, and 
beautifull as report hath beene made unto mee of 
her — I pray you tell me true ? ' " 

Whereupon the Lord Admiral discreetl}^ replied no 
word of dispraise, because people with opinions had 



"ROGUES AND PROCTORS" 119 

in those days an excellent chance of losing their heads ; 
merely remarking that she appeared to have a brown 
complexion rather than the fair one that had been 
represented to his Majesty. 

" Alas ! " replied the King, " whom shall men — to 
say nothing of kings — trust ? I promise you I see no 
such thing in her as hath been shewed to me of her, 
either by pictures or report, and am ashamed that men 
have praised her as they have done ; and I like her 
not." Which, of course, was final. 

Queen Elizabeth, of course, was here, not once 
but thrice, and on her first visit she stayed at the 
" Crown " inn, " which," says Francis Thynne, " is 
the only place to intertaine Princes comming thither." 
It was, indeed, the place where her father stayed, 
and where, according to one account, Anne of Cleves 
lodged ; and was the scene of the inimitable colloquy 
between the carriers in Henry the Fourth, just previous 
to the robbery on Gad's Hill. The " Crown," of course, 
is gone now, and an ugly building, bearing the same 
sign, but dating only from 1863, stands on its site. 

On the last day of her visit, the queen was entertained 
by " that charitable man but withal most determined 
enemy to Rogues and Proctors," Master Richard 
Watts, whose almshouse for the lodgment of six poor 
travellers bears still upon its front the evidence of his 
aversions. Controversy has long raged around the 
term " proctor," and the victory seems to rest Avith 
those who declare that the class thus excluded from the 
benefits of Master Watts' charity was that of the 
" procurators " who were licensed by the Pope to go 
through the country collecting " Peter's pence " ; 
but I have my own idea on that point, and I believe 
that the " proctors " referred to were not papists, but 
either " proctors that go up and downe with counterfeit 
licences, cosiners, and suche as go about the countrey 
using unlawfuU games " ; or the " })roctors " especially 
and particularly mentioned in the Statute Edw. VI. c. 3, 
s. 19, licensed to collect alms for the lepers who at that 



120 THE DOVER ROAD 

time were still numerous in England. These privileged 
beggars were deprived of their immunity from arrest 
by the " Act for Punishment of Rogues, Vagabonds, 
and Sturdie Beggars " (39 EUz. c. 4), wherein " all 
persons that be, or utter themselves to be Proctors, 
procurers, patent gatherers, or collectors for gaols, 
prisons, or hospitals "* are, together with " all Fencers, 
Bearewards, common players of Interludes, and 
Minstrels " to be adjudged Rogues and Vagabonds. 
Now it is sufficiently remarkable that this Act was 
passed (perhaps with the strenuous help of Master 
Watts, who Avas a Member of Parliament, and who we 
see hated proctors so ardently) at about the time when 
the " Six Poor Travellers " was built, and the reasons 
for refusing admission either to a true Proctor of a lazar- 
house, or to a pretended one, must be sufficiently 
obvious. 

Master Watts entertained the Queen at his house 
on Boley (? Beaulieu) Hill on the last day of her 
visit, and when that courtly man apologised for the 
" poor cottage " (he didn't mean it, but 'twas the 
custom so to do) Her Majesty is supposed to have 
graciously answered " Satis," and so Satis House it 
remained, and the hideous building that now stands 
upon its site still bears, grotesquely enough, its name. 

Quite a train of miscellaneous Royalties and 
celebrities came here after Elizabeth's second visit 
in 1582 ; the Duke of Sully ; James the First, who 
angered the seafaring population because he didn't 
care for the ships, loved hunting, and was afraid of 
the cannon — James the First again, with Christian 
the Fourth of Denmark and Prince Henry ; Prince 
Henry by himself in 1611 ; Frederick, Elector Palatine 
of Bohemia ; Charles the First on two occasions, on 
the second of which " the trane-bands . . . scarmished 
in warlike manner to His Majesties great content " ; 
the French Ambassador, in 1641, who thought 

* Collectors for " Ho.-pital Saturday " funds come within the meaning of 
this unrepealed Act. 



PEPYS 121 

Rochester was chiefly observable on account of its 
Bridge " furnished with high raihngs, that drunkards, 
not uncommon here, may not mix water with their 
wine " ; and nineteen years later, Charles the Second, 
on his " glorious and never-to-be-forgotten Restoracion." 

How Charles was feted here, and how he stayed at 
the beautiful old place that has taken the name of 
" Restoration House " from this visit, these pages 
cannot tell ; the story is too long. 

And here, in the name of all that's lewd and scandal- 
mongering, comes old Pepys again. It is no use trying 
to keep him out of one's pages : suppress him at one 
place, and he recurs unfailingly at another, with a 
worse record than before. I discreetly " sat on " him 
at Deptford, but here he is at Rochester, " goin' on 
hawful," to quote one of Dickens' characters (I forget 
which, and the society of so many Kings and Queens 
on the Dover Road is so fatiguing that I have neither 
sufficient time nor energy to inquire). 

Well then, it was in 1667* that Mr. Samuel Pepys 
came here, and, putting up at the " White Hart," 
strolled into the Cathedral, more intent upon the 
architecture than the doctrine, it would seem ; for 
when service began he walked out into the fields, and 
there " saw Sir F. Clark's pretty seat." And so 
" into the Cherry Garden, and here he met with a 
young, plain, silly shopkeeper and his wife, a pretty 
young woman, and I did kiss her ! " And after this 
they dined, and walked in the fields together till 
dark, " and so to bed," without the usual " God 
forgive me ! " which, considering how he had shirked 
the Cathedral service, and how questionable had been 
his conduct in the Cherry Garden, was more needful 
than ever, one would think. 

Twenty-one years after this date came James the 
Second on two hurried visits to Rochester within a few 



* He was here also in 1661, giving a very amnsing account of how he was 
entertained, and how lie kissed and sang and danced : it is too long, though, 
for quotation here. But look it up. 



122 



THE DOVER ROAD 



days of one another. If lie had had time, and had 
been in a sufficiently calm frame of mind, he might 
have reflected on the vicissitudes of Kings in general, 




HIGH STREET, EOCHE TEE : EASTGATE HOUSE. 

and of his own Royal House in ])articular ; but being 
shockingly upset, and in a mortal terror lest he should 
lose his head as thoroughly in a physical sense as he had 
already done in a figurative way of speaking, he lost 
that opportunity of coolh^ reviewing his position which, 
lu d it but been seized, would have led him to return to 
London and stay there. It is not a little sad to reflect 
that, had the gloomy and morose James not been a 
coward, the House of Stuart might still have ruled 
England. At any rate, men did not love the taciturn 
Prince of Orange and his Dutchmen so well but what 
they would have gladly done without him and have 
taken back their King, if that King had only shown a 



HOGARTH'S SATIRES 125 

little more spirit and a little less of religious bigotry. 
William could not but perceive that his principles and 
not his person were acclaimed, and when he gave the 
King leave to retire to Rochester, he both knew that 
James desired an opportunity to escape from the 
kingdom, and hoped he would use it. And he did use 
the chance so gladly given him, secretl}^ departing from 
Rochester in the small hours of a December morning, 
and making for Ambleteuse on the French coast in 
a fishing- smack. 



XXIV 

This was the last romantic event that befell at 
Rochester, and it fitly closed a stirring history. 

But Chatham and Rochester, although outward 
romance had departed, did not cease to be interested 
in naval and military affairs. Indeed, they have 
grown continually greater on them. 

It was in 1756 that the plates of England and 
France were published by Hogarth. We were suffering 
then from one of those panic fears of invasion by the 
French to which this country has been periodically 
subject, and these efforts were consequently calculated 
to have a large sale. Hogarth, of course, after his 
arrest for sketching at Calais, was morbidly, vitriolically 
l^atriotic, and his work is earnest of his feelings. 
The English are seen drilling in the background of the 
first plate, while in front of the " Duke of Cumberland " 
inn a recruit is being measured, and smiles at the 
caricature of the King of France which a grenadier is 
])ainting on the wall. A long inscription proceeds 
from the mouth of His Most Christian Majesty, " You 
take a my fine ships, you be de Pirate, you be de Teef, 
me send you my grand Armies, and hang you all, 
Morbleu," and he grasps a gibbet to emphasize the 
words. Meanwhile, a fifer plays " God Save the King " ; 
a soldier in the group has placed his sword across a great 



126 THE DOVER ROAD 

cheese ; and a sailor has ouarded his tankard of beer 
with a pistol. 

But see how different are things across the Channel. 
Outside the Sabot Royal a party of French grenadiers, 
lean and hungry-looking after their poor fare of 
soiipe vuiigre, are Avatching one of their number cook 
the sprats he has spitted on his sword. A monk with a 
grin of satisfaction feels the edge of an axe which he has 
taken from a cart full of racks and other engines of 
torture destined towards the furnishing of a monastery 
at Blackfriars in London, of which a plan is seen lying 
upon this heap of ironmongery ; and a file of soldiers 
may be seen in the distance, reluctantly embarking for 
England, and spurred forward by the point of the 
sergeant's halberd. Garrick wrote the patriotic verses 
that went with this picture, and you may see from 
them how constantly Englishmen have thought the 
French to be a nation of lean and hungry starvelings. 
That is, of course, as absurd as the unfailing practice of 
French caricaturists to whom the t3q)ical Englishman 
is a creature who has red hair and protruding teeth, 
and says " Goddam " — 

With lanthoni jaws and croaking gut. 
See how the hah-starv'd Frenchmen strut, 

And call us English dogs ; 
But soon we'll teach these bragging foes, 
That beef and beer give heavier blows 

Than soup and roasted frogs. 

The priests, inflam'd with righteous hopes, 
Prepare their axes, wheels, and ropes, 

To bend the stiff-neck'd sinner : 
But, should they sink in coming over, 
Old Nick may fish 'twixt France and Dover, 

And catch a glorious dinner. 

FcAV people, as Dickens says, can tell where Rochester 
ends and Chatham begins, but even now j^ou become 
conscious of a gradual alteration in the character of the 
street as you leave Rochester High Street and come 
imi^erceptibly into Chatham ; and even though the 
place has grown so large, and holds so very varied 
a population that the military and naval sections no 



CHATHAM 129 

longer bulk so largely as they used, they still make a 
brave show. An inhabitant of Chatham need never 
wish to visit London, because the triple towns of 
Chatham, Strood and Rochester — to leave out all 
count of Gillingham and New Brompton, which are to 
Chatham even as Hammersmith is to our own great 
metropolis — contain samples of nearly all that is to 
be seen in the Capital of the Empire, and much else 
besides. There is a Dockyard at Chatham two miles 
in length, from which there issues every day at the 
dinner-hour an army of artificers of every kind and 
degree — many thousands of them ; and in this 
Dockyard are ironclads, making, repairing, and refitting 
together with vast military and naval stores, and all 
kinds of relics, foremost among which there is a shed, 
full of old and historic figure-heads ; all that is left 
of the wooden walls that were such efficient bulwarks 
of England's power. Agamemnons, Arethiisas, Beller- 
ophons are here, and many more. And all around 
are forts and " lines," barracks and military hospitals ; 
and drilling, manoeuvring, marchings and counter- 
marchings, and all kinds of military exercises are 
continually going forward. The names of streets, 
courts, and alleys, would furnish a very Walhalla of 
naval heroes, and from all quarters come the sounds of 
riveting, the blasts of bugles, and the shouting of the 
captains ; and when midday comes the noontide gun 
resounds from the heights of Fort Pitt, and all the 
ragged urchins who live on the pavements fall down as 
if they were shot, much to the terror of old ladies, 
strangers in these parts, who pass by. 

There is still a fine old-time nautical flavour hanging 
about Chatham. It does not lie on the surface, but 
requires much patient searching amid mean and 
disreputable streets, and it is only after passing 
through slums that would affright a resident of 
Drury Lane that one finds curiously respectable little 
terraces, giving upon the waterside, mth masts and 
yards, rigging, derricks, and other strange seafaring 



130 THE DOVER ROAD 

tackle peeping over the roof-tops ; amphibious corners 
where a smell of the sea, largely intermixed with 
odours of pitch, tar, and rope, clings about everything ; 
where men with a nautical lurch come swinging along 
the pavements, and where, if you glance in at the 
doorways which are nearly always open in summer, 
you will see full-rigged models of ships standing on 
sideboards, supported perhaps by a huge Family Bible, 
and flanked, most certainly, with strange outlandish 
shells, branches of coral, and other spoils of far-off lands. 
But these things are not patent to he who goes 
only along the main road, turning to neither right nor 
left ; and it is only a little exploration of byways 
that will convince you of Mr. Pickwick's summary 
remaining still substantially correct. " The princij^al 
productions " of the three towns of Rochester, Strood, 
and Chatham, according to Mr. Pickwick, " appear to be 
soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and 
dockyard-men. The commodities chiefly exposed for 
sale in the public streets are marine-stores, hardbake, 
apples, flat-fish, and oysters." All of which might well 
have been written to-day, so closely does the description 
still apply ; but when he goes on to remark that " the 
streets present a lively and animated appearance, 
occasioned chiefly by the conviviality of the military," 
he clearly speaks of by-past times. "It is truly 
delightful," he sa^^s, "to a philanthropic mind to see 
these gallant men staggering along under the influence 
of an overflow, both of animal and ardent spirits." 
Delightful indeed ! But since those days Tommy 
Atkins has been evolutionized into a very different 
creature. 

XXV 

To plunge into mediaeval legends at Chatham will 
seem the strangest of transitions, and Chatham Parish 
Church will appear to most people the last place likely 
to have a story. Yet in demolishing the old building to 



OUR LADY OF CHATHAM 133 

make way for a new, the workmen found some frag- 
ments of sculpture which had a history. Amongst 
these was a headless group of the Virgin and Child. 

This was, in all probability, the effigy of Our Lady of 
Chatham, who, in pre-Reformation times, was famous 
for her miracles ; and of whom Lambarde gives the 
following amusing story in his Perambulations : 
" It seems," says he, " that the corps of a man (lost 
through shipwracke belike) was cast on land in the 
parishe of Chatham, and being there taken up, was by 
some charitable persones committed to honest burial 
within their church-yard ; which thing was no sooner 
done, but Our Lady of Chatham, finding herselfe 
offended therewith, arose by night and went in person 
to the house of the parishe clearke, whiche then was 
in the streete, a good distance from the church, and 
making a noj^se at his window, awaked him. The 
man, at the first, as commonly it fareth with men 
disturbed in their rest, demanded, somewhat roughly, 
' who was there ? ' But when he understoode, by her 
OAvne answer, that it was the Lady of Chatham, he 
changed his note, and moste mildeley asked ye cause of 
her comming ; she tolde him, that there was lately 
buryed (neere to the place where she was honoured) 
a sinful person, which so offended her eye with his 
gastly grinning, that, unless he were removed, she 
could not but (to the great griefe of good people) 
withdrawe herselfe from that place, and cease her 
wonted miraculous working amongst them : and 
therefore, she willed him to go with her, to the ende 
that, by his helpe, she might take him up, and caste 
him again into the river. The clearke obeyed, arose, 
and waited on her towarde the churche ; but the goode 
ladie (not wonted to walk) waxed wearie of the labour, 
and therefore was enforced, for very want of breath, 
to sit downe in a bushe by the way, and there to 
rest her : and this place (forsooth) as also the whole 
track of their journey, remaining ever after a greene 
pathe, the towne dwellers were wont to shew. Now, 



134 THE DOVER ROAD 

after a while, they go forward againe, and coming to 
the churcheyarde, digged up the body, and conveyed 
it to the waterside, where it was first found. This done, 
Our Lady shrancke againe into her shryne ; and the 
clearke peaked home, to patche up his broken sleepe ; 
but the corps now eftsoones floted up and down the 
river, as it did before ; which thing being espyed by 
them of Gilhngham, it was once n^ore taken up, and 
buryed in their churcheyarde. But see wliat followed 
upon it ; not only the roode of Gillingham (say they), 
that a while before was busie in bestowing m3Tacles, 
was now deprived of all that his former virtue ; but 
also ye very earth and place where this carckase was 
laid, did continually, for ever after, settle and sinke 
downewarde." 

Barham has made good use of this story, you who 
have read the legend of Grey Dolphin in the Ingoldshy 
Legends Avill remember. He narrates, with a joyous 
irreverence, how, in consequence of the miraculous 
interposition of the Lady of Chatham (Saint Bridget, 
forsooth ! " who, after leading but a so-so-life, had died 
in the odour of sanctity ") masses were sung, tapers 
kindled, bells tolled, and how everything thenceforward 
was wonderment and devotion ; the monks of Saint 
Romwold in solemn procession, the abbot at their 
head, the sacristan at their tail, and the holy breeches 
of Saint Thomas a Becket in the centre. " Father 
Fothergill brewed a XXX puncheon of holy water," 
continues Tom Ingoldsby, clerk in holy orders and 
minor canon of the Cathedral of Saint Paul, indulging 
at once his exuberant humour and his contemjot of the 
Church of Rome, with its relics, miracles, bone-chests, 
and sanctified aqua imra. Meanwhile, the grinning 
sailor, " grinning more than ever," had drifted down 
the river, off Gillingham, and lay on the shore in all the 
majesty of mud, presently to be discovered by the 
minions of Sir Robert de Shurland, who bade them 
" turn out his pockets." But it was ill gleaning after 
the double scrutiny of Father Fothergill and the parish 




PAID OFF AT CHATHAM. 

After a Painting bi/ R. Deightnv, R.A. 



" JEZREEL " 137 

clerk ; and, as Ingoldsby observes, " there was not a 
single maravedi." 

From Saint Bridget to a weird, but yet not altogether 
unworldly, fanatic of recent years the transition would 
not be easy, were it not for the fact that the said 
fanatic's hideous temple still crowns Chatham Hill for 
all men to see, as a monument of the unfathomed and 
unfathomable credulity of mankind. The stranger who 
walks or cycles his way to Dover is told that this 
barrack-like building is " Jezreel's Temple," and that is 
about the extent of the information forthcoming. 
The unredeemed ugliness of the unfinished temple is at 
once repellant and exciting to curiosity, and the 
name of " Jezreel " wears such an Old Testament air 
that most people who pass by want very much to 
know who and what he was. 

He was, as a matter of fact, a private soldier of the 
16th Regiment, named James White, who, having been 
bought out of the Army by the members of a fanatical 
sect before whom he posed as a prophet, took the 
extraordinary names of " James Jershom Jezreel," 
and, with seventeen followers, founded a new sect, 
the New House of Israel, known by scoffers as the 
" Joannas." They were, in fact, mad enthusiasts 
like those whom Joanna Southcott had fooled, years 
before, and it is supposed that White took the name of 
" Jezreel " from the Book of Hosea, adding the other 
names to make a trinity of initial " J's," allusive to the 
Prophetess Joanna and her minor prophet, John Wroe. 

Not that " Jezreel " was mad. Not at all. To him 
as Prophet and Patriarch of these New Israelites was 
given up the whole property of those who entered the 
House, to be held in common ; and he made a very 
good thing of the infatuation of the hundreds of wealthy 
middle-class converts who had a fancy for this singular 
kind of communistic religion. It was an article of his 
followers' creed that they were the first portion of 
the 144,000, twice told, who will receive Christ when he 
comes again to reign a thousaixl years on earth. 



13S THE DOVER ROAD 

To support his character as leader of this House, 
" Jezreel " pretended to have received a communication 
from a messenger of God, who inspired him to write an 
extraordinary farrago of Bibhcal balderdash, without 
argument, beginning, or end, called the " Flying Roll." 
The curious may obtain three volumes of this nonsense, 
but the only preternatural thing in these books of 
Extracts from the Flying Roll is their gross and 
unapproachable stupidity which completely addles the 
brain of him who reads them, hoping thereby to 
discover the tenets of the sect or any single thread of 
argument that may be followed for more than a 
consecutive prragraph or two. The effect upon one 
reading those pages is the same as that which Mark 
Twain tells us was produced on him when Art emus 
Ward, having plied him with strong drink, began 
purposely to enter upon a preposterous conversation, 
having a specious air of a grave and lucid argument, but 
which was merely an idiotic string of meaningless 
sentences. Mark Twain thought himself had gone 
daft, and felt his few remaining senses going ; and 
that is just what happens to any one who sits down 
and seriously tries to understand what " Jezreel's " 
Extracts are all about. 

In 1879, " Jezreel " married Clarissa Rogers, the 
daughter of a New Brompton sawyer ; and, assuming 
the name of " Queen Esther," she paid a visit, with the 
prophet, to America. This precious pair made an 
extraordinary number of converts in their preaching 
tours, and, returning to England, made Gillingham the 
headquarters of their New House of Israel. Schools 
and twenty acres of various buildings were built there 
at a cost of £100,000, and the " Temple," intended to 
hold 20,000 people, was commenced on Chatham Hill. 
But " Jezreel " died in 1885, chiefly of drink and the 
effects of sunstroke, before this work could be completed 
and the zealots, who were wont to go about with long 
hair tucked under purple-veh^et caps, began to wake 
up to a sense not only of their sumptuary folly, but also 



JEZREEL'S TOWER 139 

of the phenomenal simpheity which they had exhibited 
in giving up their j^roperty to the House. " Queen 
Esther " was incapable of fooling these simple folk 
as completely as " Jezreel " had done, and minor 
prophets sprang up to dispute her sovereignty over 
the elect. Perhaps they were jealous of the state in 
which this quondam sawyer's daughter drove about in a 
carriage and pair, attended by liveried servants. 
Perhaps also they had visions and Divine inspirations. 
At any rate, " Queen Esther " presently drooped, and 
died in 1888, in her twenty-eighth year ; whereupon 
the sect swiftly collapsed under the rival seers who 
followed. Lawsuits succeeded to the fine religious 
frenzy in which the " Temple " was raised, and it 
still stands unfinished, visible on its hilltop over a 
great part of Chatham. It would be a pity to pull 
it down, or to complete it ; or, indeed, to do anything 
at all to it, for, as it is now, it furnishes perhaps as 
eloquent a sermon on human wickedness and folly 
as could well be delivered. 

The great tower, framed in steel and built of yellow 
brick with ornamental lines of blue Staffordsliire brick, 
has stone panels carved with a trumpet with a scroll, 
" The Flying Roll," suspended from it ; with the 
Prince of Wales feathers and the motto " I serve," and 
other devices. The unfinished tower itself cost £44,000. 
The foundation-stone was laid, as an inscription savs, 
19th September, 1885, " by Mrs. Emma Cave, on behalf 
of the 144,000. Revelations {sic) 7th, 4." 

It was understood that ^Irs. Cave, who at that time 
owned a large part of Tufnell Park, found the money for 
the tower, selling her pro}:)erty for the cause. The 
unfinished tower was seized by the building contractors 
for debt, and offered for sale by auctioneers, who stated 
it " would do for a lunatic asylum, prison, infirmary, 
etc." This suggestion failed, and the contractors, 
unable to sell the incomplete carcase, let it to the sect 
under a lease, which terminated in 1905. There were 
at that time Jezreelite workrooms and printing-offices 



140 THE DOVER ROAD 

in the basement. An American Jezreelite then 
appeared, one Michael Keyfor Mills, calling himself 
" Prince Michael," and proposing to complete. The 
founder's father-in-law, Edward Rogers, who had rented 
the place as a wholesale grocery warehouse, opposed 
him and secured an injunction against members of the 
sect who had supported the idea. Mills died at 
Gillingham in January, 1922, aged sixty-five. 

In 1908 a company was formed to demolish the 
building and sell the materials ; but when the upper 
floors had been taken down the concern became 
insolvent. In 1913 it was proposed to convert the 
building into a " Picture Palace," but the idea came to 
nothing ; and later, the property was offered at 
auction and withdrawn at £3,900. 

If there be any surviving Jezreelites of the " New and 
Latter House of Israel," who believe that the souls of 
only those who have lived since Moses can be saved, 
they will be able to look with satisfaction on the 
remains of their tower, which was built largely with the 
idea that five thousand of the elect would gather here 
at the destruction of the world. 

But in its present condition a good many of that 
number would be left outside ; and there might be 
expected an unseemly crush to get within, only that by 
this time the elect of this particular brand must be a 
very small coterie. 



XXVI 

Little else is to be seen or noted in leaving Chatham 
for Rainham. The shop in Avhich that singular old 
gentleman lived, with whom little David Copperfield 
made acquaintance, is not pointed out to the curious, 
and the identity of that apostrophizer of his lungs and 
liver, who exclaimed " Goroo, goroo," and tearfully 
asked David if he would go for fourpence, has been 
much disputed. " The House on the Brook," to which 



UPCHURCH WARE 141 

the Dickens family removed when Mr. John Dickens' 
fortunes were low, is still to be seen, but " the Brook " 
has changed for the worse, and the visitor to Chatham 
who takes up the local papers will discover that it is 
pre-eminently the place where the Order of the Black 
Eye is conferred, on Saturday nights in especial, but 
more or less impartially throughout the week. 

It is not before Rainham is reached that the road 
becomes once more the open highway. Moor Street 
is passed, and here the Rainham orchards and the 
cherry orchards of Gillingham begin to stretch away 
to the levels of the Upchurch marshes. " Wealth 
without health " begins to be the characteristic of 
the country, for the marsh mists hang over the levels 
from early evening, through the night, to almost 
midday ; and agues, asthma, and bronchial complaints 
are the common lot. Many miles' length of submerged 
Roman pottery-works lie down in those Swale and 
Cooling marshes, and many have been, and are still, 
the " finds " of broken black " Upchurch ware " in the 
mud and ooze. Perfect specimens are discovered at 
rarer intervals. The proper method of searching for 
these vestiges of the Roman occupation is to equip 
one's self ^\ith a stout pair of sea-boots, and a 
" sou'wester," and to wade at low tide in the creeks, 
probing the slimy mud with iron rods. If the explorer 
is fortunate in his " pitch " he will discover pottery, 
broken or whole, by feeling his iron rod strike some- 
thing harder than the surrounding half-liquid cla}^ 
The joy of such exquisite moments is unfortunately 
sometimes marred by the " find " being but a lump of 
half-baked clay ; Roman, indeed, but not worthy of 
preservation. Still, when fragments of patterned ware 
are found, the discovery repays in interest for the time 
spent in mudlarking. 

Rainham Church heralds the village, raising up its 
white and four-square battlemented walls from beside 
the road. A large building, vnth a few late brasses ; 
a vault full of Tuftons, Earls of Thanet, of whom the 



142 THE DOVER ROAD 

last died in 1863, unmarried ; and two life-sized 
marble statues of Tuftons, father and son, in that 
curious classic conve ition of the late seventeenth 
century which found such a delight in representing 
distinguished folk as Roman warriors. Nicholas Tufton, 
the earl, and his son, Avho died from wounds received 
in battle, are those thus represented here ; and the 
statue of the son, scupltured in a sitting position, 
is a really fine work of art. Beyond this, Rainham has 
not much to detain the explorer, and being a summer 
rendezvous for Chatham pleasure-parties and bean- 
feasters, it is apt to become dusty and riotous when the 
season of annual outings is at hand. 

The church seen some distance to the left of the 
road is that of Newington. In the \'cstry is displayed 
a copy of the last will and testament of Simon Tomlin, 
dated November 13, 1689. In this disposition of his 
worldl}^ effects are gifts to relatives and to the poor ; 
and to his brother-in-law, William Plawe of Stockbury, 
he leaves " my best beaver hatt and the sum of £15, 
lawful money of England." It is to be hoped that the 
legatee got his hat, but, as many provisions of the will 
do not appear to have been complied with, it seems 
doubtful. 

There was a priory of nuns established at Newington 
in early Norman times, but all that is now left of it is a 
striking legend which proves that when these pious 
ladies retired from the world they brought some of the 
world's worst characteristics with them. What they 
quarrelled about one night will never now be known, 
but when the morning dawned the Prioress was found 
strangled in her bed ; which goes to prove that the veil 
no more goes to make the nun tlian orders black, white, 
or grey furnish a monk fully forth in true monastic 
attributes. A clialk pit, about a mile south of the 
church, called significantly " Nun-pit," is shown as the 
place where those less holy than homicidal sisters were 
afterwards buried alive. Other accounts say that 
these nuns were removed to Minster, in Sheppey. 



NEWINGTON 143 

However that may be, Heiir}^ the Second would have 
no more nuns here. He placed seven priests in the 
Prior}^ as secular canons, and gave them the manor, 
hoping that this religious house would in future have 
a less lurid career. But things, instead of improving, 
grew wcrse. One of the canons was found murdered in 
his bed, and four of the brethren were convicted of the 
crime. 

From these queer stories we come, appropriately 
enough, to a tale in which the Enemy bears a brave 
})art. AVhen Newington Church was being built, 
" ever so long ago," as the tale of gramarye has it, 
and the time came for the bells to be himg, the Devil, 
who, it is well known, hates the sound of church bells, 
conceited the grand plan of pushing the tower o>'er, so 
that the builders would give up the idea. Accordingly, 
he ventured down the lane one night, and, standing in 
the churchyard — as he could well do, because the place 
was not yet consecrated — placed his back against the 
tower, and, putting his feet against a wall on the other 
side of the road, pushed. No one knows what was the 
result, but as there is a tower here to this day — and 
a very fine one it is, too — it may be presumed that 
either Satan had altogether overrated his strength, 
or that the builders had built better than they knew. 
But if the Enemy failed in this, he at least succeeded 
in leaving his mark. Accordingly, here is the wall, 
and in it is a stone, and in that stone is a hole made 
by his toes ; while on another stone is the print of a very 
fine and large boot-sole — valuable evidence, because it 
not only proves the truth of the story but also shows us 
that the De^il wore a Blucher boot on one foot and let 
the other go unshod. If you ask me how it came 
about that the Devil could come here in the fourteenth 
century wearing a nineteenth-century boot, I must 
quote the showman who exhibited a wax model of 
Daniel in the lions' den. Daniel was seen to be 
reading the Times, and some one in the crowd pointed 
out the incongruous circumstance, to which the 



lU THE DOVER ROAD 

showman replied that Daniel, being a prophet, read the 
Times by anticipation ! And if a saint could anticipate 
the nineteenth century in newspapers, why should not 
the Fiend do the same in boots ? 

Peaceful cherry orchards stretch along the narrow 
valley, and the railway runs through them, giving 
glimpses to passengers of long rows of cherry trees 
with emerald grass flecked with sunlight and flocks 
of sheep feeding under the boughs ; and picturesque 
farmsteads standiniy in midst of fertile meads. 



XXVII 

The village of Newington stands on either side of the 
old Dover Road, w^hich is here identical with the famous 
Roman military via of Watling Street. It is situated 
in the centre of a district covered thickly with Roman 
remains, and the village itself dates from Saxon times, 
when it really was a " new town " as distinguished 
from the adjacent ruins of the ancient Roman station 
of Durolevum. All the ingenuity of archaeologists has 
been insufficient to determine at what particular spot 
this military post was established. Judde Hill, 
Sittingbourne, and Bapchild have been selected as 
probable sites of Durolevum, and certainly Bapchild 
and Sittingbourne are likely places for the original 
military post mentioned in the Itinerary of Antoninus. 
Both are situated within an easy distance of the 
measurements given by the itinerist, and at either place 
there w^as anciently a stream of water crossing the road, 
sufficient, perhaps, to warrant the prefix of " Duro," 
which, almost without exception, distinguishes the 
Roman military place-names on the Dover Road. 
That prefix was the Latini/ed form of the Celtic 
" dour," signifying a stream, and it is met with at : — 

Dubris = Dover. 

Durovernum = Canterbury, 

Durolevum = ? Bapcliild, Sittingbourne, or Ospriiige. 

DurobriviB = Rochester. 



ROMAN STATIONS 145 

A military expedition would naturally be encamjied 
beside a stream, where the cavalry could water their 
horses, in preference to a waterless district ; and 
therefore, Newino^ton and Judde Hill, which both 
stand beyond an easy reach of flo^\ing water, cannot 
have such good claims to ha\'e been the site of Duro- 
levum as either Sittingbourne, or Bapchild, whose 
name, indeed, is a corruption of the Saxon Beccanceld, 
" the pool of the springs." The flow of water through- 
out the country must in those remote times have been 
much greater than now, for dense forests then covered 
a great part of the island, and induced rains and 
moisture. In fact, the Dover Road was until recent 
years remarkable for the number of considerable 
streams and trickling rills that flowed across it, either 
under bridges or across fords, and it is not so long 
since those that crossed the highway at Sittingbourne 
and Bapchild were diverted or dried up. They must 
have been broad streams when Caesar led his legionaries 
up the rough British trackway in pursuit of the Cantii, 
and the still very considerable brook that crosses the 
road at Ospringe would have then attained the 
dimensions of a river. It might be well to look to 
Ospringe for the original Durolevum, for the situation 
must have been admirable from a military point of 
view ; and, moreover, it was near, if not then actually 
on, the head of a navigable creek leading directly to 
the sea, where Faversham now stands. 

But when archaeologists leave the consideration of 
Caesar's and his successors' military station and seek the 
site of Durolevum to^Mi or city, they unaccountably 
lose sight of the fact that this Roman province of 
Britannia Prima was obviously Aery populous, and 
that Durolevum, instead of being a small isolated town, 
must needs have been the centre of a thickl}^ populated 
district of smaller towns, hamlets, and outlying villas, 
stretching for miles along the now solitary reaches of 
the Dover Road, and reaching down to the Upchurch 
marshes. 



146 THE DOVER ROAD 

The era of the Roman colonization of Britain is so 
remote that few antiquaries even ever stop awhile to 
consider how long those hardy aliens occupied this 
island, or how effective that occupation was, either 
in a military or social sense. Four hundred years 
just measure the length of time the Romans were with 
us ; and what can not be done in so lengthy a period ! 
Four hundred years would suffice to create a high state 
of civilization from mere savagery, and that is what the 
Romans accomplished here in that space of time. 
They not only conquered, but they eventually pacified, 
the fierce and fearless Britons ; and they established 
export and import trades that rendered Britain the 
most prosperous colony of the Roman Empire, and the 
Romano-British merchants and people the wealthiest 
colonists of those times. Stately villas beyond the 
towns, but sufficiently near them to invoke, if needs 
were, the protection of the cohorts, rose up on all sides, 
where the rich traders in British produce took their ease 
or engaged themselves in cultivating the cherry and 
sweet-chestnut trees which they had introduced from 
the sunny hillsides of Italy. There is to this day a 
manor at Milton-next- Sittingbourne called " North- 
wood Chasteners," so called from an ancient grove 
of chestnuts (castaneas), the descendants of the first 
chestnut trees introduced by the Romans. Vast 
Roman potteries had their being in the lowlands 
beside the Medway ; Upchurch, Faversham, and 
Richborough furnished the tables of Roman Emperors 
and epicures with the " native " oysters that were 
even then famous and the cause of an immense trade ; 
while manufactures poured in from Rome to suit the 
British taste. 

Durolevum must, then, be sought amid the potsherds 
of a hundred settlements, any one of which might have 
been a suburb of that forgotten station ; but the site 
where the present village of Newington stands was 
probably fresh ground when the Saxons came and drove 
out with ruthless slaughter the luxurious and enervated 



ROMAN STATIONS 147 

Romanized British, who speedily tell a prey to barbar- 
ians when once the Roman garrison was withdrawn. 
Archaeologists have remarked that the Saxons generally 
occupied the Roman towns that were left after the 
Romano-British fled from them ; but although they 
sometimes did so, there are many instances where they 
established towns on new sites closely adjoining the 
old, but carefully separated from them. Such was the 
case at AYroxeter, where the Saxons built an entirely 
new town, adjoining, but not actually on, the ruined 
and deserted city of Uriconium. Probably the 
Saxons found Durolevum wrecked in the internal 
struggles that rent Britain asunder after the legionaries 
were withdrawn ; and, being a Pagan and superstitious 
people, they shunned the almost deserted heap of ruins 
as being the abode of evil spirits. The stagnant and 
fetid wreck of a great city, whose fallen houses covered 
the bodies of many slaughtered citizens, and whose 
site was very likely overflowed with choked drains and 
freshets from the swollen streams, was not exactly the 
place to appeal to strangers, even though uncivilized, 
as a suitable site for dwelling upon ; and, indeed, it may 
readily be imagined that these rotting remains of a dead 
civilization would be infinitely more awe-inspiring 
to a barbaric race than to the few remaining Britons 
who had seen the place in all the pride and circumstance 
of better days. And, indeed, the black, polluted earth 
of a long-inhabited town, and the will-o' -wisps and 
phosphorescent bubbles bred from the corruption 
below, that would float at night uj^on the surface of the 
Avater, would have frighted most people of those 
superstitious times. 

Newington stands on elevated ground, away from 
such chances, but in its immediate neighbourhood have 
been found many Roman relics, and all around, the 
fields, the meadows, and the hillsides are rich in legends 
and broken pottery. Standard Hill is so called from a 
tradition that the Roman eagle was there displayed, 
and a field adjoining is known as Crockfield, from the 



148 



THE DOVER ROAD 



<i;rcat number of Roman })ots and fragments of pottery 
turned up there by the plough. Tlie name of Keycol 
Hill, too, is said to have had a Roman origin, and 
Hasted derives it from Caii Collis, or Caius Julius 
Cyesar's Hill. Finally, the modern roadside hamlet of 
Key Street, between Newington and Sittingbourne, is 
said to owe its name to Caii Stratuvi, or Caius Street. 
The inn at Key Street, now ealled the " Key," was 
previously to 1733 known as the " Ship." It stands 
near the hill-top where Key Street eommences, and 
commands a long, straight dip of the road towards 




KEY STREET. 



Sittingbourne, whose outlying houses are just beyond 
the farthest clump of trees. 

The chance wayfarer little thinks how abundant 
are the vestiges of antiquity here, both in fragments of 
pottery, and in the time-honoured names of manors, 
fields, and meadows. Such things are only to be 
brought to light by the painstaking local historian 
who has access to Court Rolls and ancient estate maps. 
It is little known or considered by the dwellers in 
populous towns that almost every meadow, field, croft, 
pasture, down, or woodland has its name, as distinct 



PLACE-NAMES 149 

and as well-known locally as that of any London street 
included in the Directory. More than this, these 
names are often the survivals of a state of things 
existing a thousand years ago. They are frequently 
rendered obscure by the corruption and evolution of 
languages, and by the physical changes that have come 
over the face of the country during so long a period ; 
but with research, and linguistic scholarship, and a 
knowledge both of local history and the ancient 
history of the country in general, much that seems at 
first obscure, or even utterly inexplicable, may be 
finally resolved into meaning. The study of these 
place-names has all the attraction of original 
exploration, and leads on inexhaustibly. But while 
the tracking of apparently meaningless names to their 
origin has all the fascination of sport, it gives rise to 
many hazardous conjectures and lame conclusions, and 
names that do not yield their secrets to patient inquiry 
are too often thrust into some ill-fitting category from 
which they are rescued, to the shame and deiision of 
those who placed them there. In fine, " cock-sureness " 
is nowhere more out of place than in these inquiries, 
and in nothing else is the mental effort of " jumping 
to conclusions " met with such ludicrous accidents. 
It has, for instance, long been a commonplace in these 
inquiries to refer the names of towns, villages, or 
hamlets ending in " ing " to the settlements of Saxon 
patriarchal tribes ; and the Hallings, Coolings, 
Bobbings, Detlings, and Wellings are set down as 
having been originally the homes of Teutonic clans 
taking their names from chieftains named Halla, 
Coela, Bobba, and so forth. 

But while this rule may generally hold good, it must 
not be applied automatically, and the " learning " that 
has given this origin to the names of Sittingbourne, 
Newington, and Ospringe must be regarded as a 
grotesque exercise of imagination, creating previously 
unheard-of clans, the Soedingas, the Newingas, and the 
Osprings, who are not only new to archaeology, but 



150 THE DOVER ROAD 

probably have never existed. Of course, in the utter 
absence of all evidence, save that of the places them- 
selves so named, no statement can be proved correct ; 
but these mystic Soedingas may almost certainly be 
dismissed to the realm of fairy-tales, and if there ever 
was a tribe of Newingas, they took their name from the 
village which they built and where they lived, instead 
of giving it to the place. Where others have come to 
grief, it would be rash to seek new derivations ; but it 
seems evident that Ospringe derives its name from the 
stream flowing through the village, and that the name 
of Sittingbourne is nothing other than " seething 
burn," or " the bubbling brook," a poetic name which 
the place no longer merits. Place-names of Roman 
origin may be sought in the several Vigos that exist, 
some now the names of fields, marshes, roadsides, 
and commons where there is not a house to be seen, 
but which were originally the sites of Roman villages, 
the name of " Vigo " — the Latin vicus — having been 
traditionally handed down to the present day many 
centuries after the last traces of those settlements have 
disappeared. 

Many fields, too, here and in different parts of the 
countr^^, are named " Wliitehall." How did they 
get that name ? The answer is sought in the Roman 
word " aula,^' the residence of a magistrate or a chief 
man in authority. When the Saxons came, they found 
these grand aulas, built of stone, dotted about the 
country, some ruined, others tolerably perfect ; and 
they must have made a strong impression upon these 
barbaric Pagans, used at that early period of their 
history only to wooden dwellings of the rudest 
construction. They would ha^ e demanded the names 
of these places from the Romano-British, who would 
tell them they were aulas ; and they would have 
called them " hwit aulas," from the stone of which 
they were built. It was thus that the many villages 
called " Whitchurch " got their name, from the stone 
(or " white ") churches that were so remarkable as 



HERMITS 151 

compared with the dark-hiied temples and churches of 
wood to Avhich the Saxons were accustomed. 

But if this origin of the " Whitehalls " does not 
satisfy, there is another which may be even more 
Hkely. They were, possibly, at one time the sites of 
village Witan-halls, where the wdse men of the Saxon 
villages assembled their local Parliaments, the 
" witans " or " witenagemots," those remote fore- 
runners of the village- and parish-councils which 
statesmen of the late nineteenth century have 
established, as items in a more or less admirable 
scheme for restoring the Heptarchy. There are 
" Whitehalls " in the immediate outlying fields of 
Sittingbourne, and there is one within the Roman 
encampment overhanging the railway cutting at 
Harbledo^vn ; but at none of these places are there any 
traces of buildings above ground. Excavation might 
reveal ancient foundations. 



XXVIII 

As mediaeval travellers approached Sittingbourne 
from the direction of London, the first objects they 
perceived were the chapel and hermitage of Schamel, 
dedicated to Saint Thomas a Becket, and standing on 
the south side of the road. They are gone now, 
and a wayside public-house — " The Volunteers "— 
stands on, or near their site ; but the hermitage was, 
from the time of King John to the impious days of 
Henry the Eighth, a resting-place for those devout 
pilgrims who sought the shrine of the " holy blissful 
martyr " at Canterbury. In the reign, however, of 
that " Defender of the Faith " — when it suited him — 
the chapel and the hermitage were scattered to the 
winds, and the hermit thrust out into a world that 
had grown tired of making pilgrimages. But, while 
it lasted, the Hermitage of Schamel did a very thriving 



152 THE DOVER ROAD 

business ; so thriving, indeed, as to excite the jealousy 
of the Sittingbourne people, who conceived themselves 
injured by the intercepting of pilgrims before they 
could reach and fertilize the town with streams of gold. 
Rich pilgrims were a source of wealth to many towns 
and villages on the Dover Road, and hermits, bishops, 
priors, and abbots contended for them like 'busmen for 
passengers before the introduction of the bell-punch 
and the ticket system. 

We first hear of Schamel Hermitage in the time 
of a priest named Samuel, whose duties consisted in 
saying mass daily, in wearing a hair-shirt, refraining 
from soap and water, and in attending upon those 
pilgrims and travellers who did not mind the apostolic 
dirt in which he wallowed ; and by whose alms he 
supported himself and the chapel. Samuel died and 
was gathered to his fathers, and the building presently 
fell into decay, to be rebuilt by an Augustinian monk, 
during whose lifetime the annals of the Hermitage are 
too placid for recounting in this place. His successor 
was one Walter de Hermestone, who was appointed by 
the Queen about 1271. Imagine his disgust, though, 
when he came here and foimd the place a wreck, the 
work of the Vicar and the townsfolk of Sittingbourne. 
This estimable clergyman, whose name was Simon de 
Shordich, and who seems to have brought the manners 
and customs ( f his native place with him, had carried 
off the Hermitage bell and altar as prizes to his own 
church, and the men of Sittingbourne had left both 
the Hermitage and the Chapel in the likeness of a 
Babylonic ruin. History does not record what 
became of Walter de Hermestone, but it seems likely 
that he departed for some more peaceful spot. 
Meanwhile, Simon de Shordich died, perhaps from 
the effects of the eremitical curses which the dis- 
appointed incumbent of the ruinated place doubtless 
showered on him ; and he was followed, both in his 
Vicarage and his evil courses, by a certain Boniface, 
who carted awav the ruins and sold them. 



SCHAMEL 153 

Sixteen years later an inquiry was held on these 
matters, at the instance of the Queen, who, holding 
the manor of Milton-next-Sittingbourne, was patron 
of the chapel. There seems to have been a hamlet of 
Schamel at this time, for a certain William the Weaver, 
and others who gave evidence before the commission, 
are located here. It must have been about this era 
that the chapel was rebuilt, but little is heard of it 
until June, 1358, when the Queen of Edward the Third 
passed by, and gave 20,9. in alms. Friar Richard de 
Lexeden was then in possession. Two years later. 
King John of France passed, on his way home, and 
gave twenty nobles, a sum equal to no less than 
£120 of our money ; and that is the last we hear of the 
Hermitage until it was for ever destroyed in 1542-43. 

Meanwhile, the chapel of Swanstree, at the east 
end of the town, was as much upheld and cared for 
by the Sittingbourne people as the Schamel chapel 
was robbed and injured. Wealthy tradespeople left 
money in their wills to its altars and for the repair 
of the roads thither, and the Vicars of Sittingbourne 
approved of it, because it not only did not take away 
from them, but gleaned anything that the pilgrims 
had to spare after they left Sittingbourne, and before 
they came to the next town. But although so 
favoured, this chapel has gone the way of the other, 
and iiot a vestige of it remains. It stood on the 
grounds of the present Murston Rectory. 

Sittingbourne was not a large place in the days that 
ended with the advent of railway times, but it had an 
astonishing number of hotels, inns, and beer-houses. 
People had not at that time begun to see that the 
royal road to fortune lay in the making of bricks and 
tiles, and so they amassed riches by i)lundering the 
travellers whose evil stars sent them down the road to 
Canterbury and Dover ; and in the lulls of business 
when no tra\'ellers were forthcoming, they ])robably 
" kept their hands in " by overcharging one another. 
I believe Sittingbourne must have been a town of inns, 



154 THE DOVER ROAD 

and but little else, and that the population lived in 
hotels and drank wines, beer, and spirits all day long 
and a great part of the night, just for the fun of the 
thing. 

Not that mine host of the " Red Lion " was at all 
extortionate when he entertained Henry the Fifth 
in 1415, on his return from Agincourt. On the 
contrary, the bill Avas decidedly reasonable, amounting 
only to nine-and-sixpence, including wine. You 
cannot, unhappily, dine conquering heroes of any 
sort — much less kings — so reasonably nowadays, 
and I suspect that, even a century or more ago, 
when the First and Second Georges were used to 
put up at the " George," on their way to or from 
Hanover, prices must have ruled much higher. The 
" Red Lion " was undoubtedly the chief inn at 
Sittingbourne from a very early time, and it kept its 
good repute for centuries ; for here it was that Henry 
the Eighth stayed when " progressing " along the 
Dover Road in 1541, and here he held what in those 
autocratic times answered to our present Cabinet 
Councils. If I were a licensed victualler I could wish 
those days back again. Beside the " Red Lion " and 
the " George," there were at this time the scarcely 
less inferior hostelries of the " Horn," the " Saracen's 
Head," the " Bull," and the " White Hart " ; and, 
what with Emperors, Kings, Archbishops, Cardinals, 
and other dignitaries, with trains of attendants 
numbering anything from two thousand down to 
fifty, they must all have been needed. In the 
sixteenth century, then. Emperors and Kings were 
the usual guests of the " Red Lion." The landlord 
at that time sniffed at Princes and Archbishops, and 
turned away such riff-raff as Dukes and Earls. So 
soon, however, as 1610, we find a mere untitled 
traveller received at the " Red Lion " ; one Justus 
Zinzerling, a German, who came posting up the road 
from Canterbury. We know from his own account 
that posting was not in those days very expensive. 



SITTINGBOURNE 1 55 

He paid three shillings for riding these fifteen miles, 
and alighting at the " Red Lion," put up for the 
night, glad to get here, past the body of a robber 
Avho had been hanged from a roadside tree for 
murdering a messenger. The body was so surrounded 
with ehains and rings that Herr Zinzerling was of 
the opinion it would last a long time for the due 
reading of a much-needed moral to others. He found 
the landlord of the " Red Lion " to be a Scotchman 
who knew Latin, and on this common ground of good- 
fellowship they drank to one another and quoted the 
classics until drmk tied their tongues and deposited 
their bodies under the table. 

I have already had occasion to mention six first-class 
inns that flourished here three hundred years ago ; 
but in the middle of last century there were a great 
many more. The " George," the " Rose," and the 
" Red Lion " seem to have been the chief est of them 
about this time ; and, if we may believe Hasted 
(and there is no reason why we shouldn't), the " Rose " 
was " the most superb of any throughout the kingdom, 
and the entertainment afforded in it equally so.'' 
But where is the " Rose Hotel " now ? Gone, alas ! 
with the snows of yester-year. Where, also, the 
" George," which at the time of Waterloo kept forty 
pairs of post-horses ? and where the " Red Lion " ? 
It would, I fancy, puzzle most folks to say, for although 
they still stand, the change that came over the spirit 
of their dream about 1840 has caused them to be cut 
up into separate houses and tenements. 

We can, however, by intensive observation, identify 
the " Rose." It is a handsome red brick building on 
the left-hand side, now occupied by a firm of grocers. 
The identification is from a beautifully-carved rose 
in a red brick panel on the first floor, with the initials 
" R. I." and the date 1708. The building is large, 
and has eight windows in a row. But the " George " 
has nine, and the " Lion " twelve. 

About this time, too, the people seem to have given 



156 THE DOVER ROAD 

up living in hotels and inns, and to have taken to 
private houses. Also, they drank tea instead of beer ; 
and so presently we find the inns disappearing that at 
one time stood next to one another, in a long line on 
both sides of the High Street, and even in the branch 
thoroughfares. Here was the " White Hart," large 
enough in 1815 to have eighteen soldiers quartered in it 
daily. It is now divided between a Bank and a 
Brewery. Here, also, was the " Gun," which, aptly 
enough, had as many vicissitudes as the fortunes of 
war, for it was turned into the Parish Workhouse, 
opened again in 1752 as the " Globe," and presently 
became the workhouse again, with, probably, the 
landlord as its first inmate ! But it was no greater a 
success as what our grandfathers with an ironical 
humour termed a " House of Industry " than as a 
hostelry, and so it was not long before the paupers 
were marched out and another phase of its strange 
eventful history commenced. This time it became a 
coachmaker's workshop, and there we will leave 
it. 

Sittingbourne innkeepers had an inordinate fancy 
for changing their signs, and some of their houses 
have borne as many aliases as an old and hardened 
swindler. Thus the " Seven Stars " became in turn 
the " Cherry Tree," the " Union Flag," and finally 
the " Volunteers " ; while the present " Plough Inn " 
(only they may have changed its name again already) 
in East Street has been successively the " King- 
Henry the Eighth," and the " Royal Oak." Other 
houses were the " Bull," the " Adam and Eve," the 
" Walnut Tree," the " King's Head," " Six Bells," 
" Black Boy," " Boatswain's Call," " Ship," 
" Chequer," " Three Post Boys," " Crown," " Bird in 
Hand," '' Lamb," " Three Kings," " Angel," " Porto- 
bello," " Bell," " Duke's Head," and " Cross Keys " ; 
to name but a selection, but age has withered, and 
want of custom staled, the most of them, and, instead 
of entertaining travellers, the inhabitants of Sitting- 



BRICKS AND TILES 157 

bourne poison them with the appalHng smells that 
arise from the numberless brick-kilns round about. 

For the making of bricks and tiles is the chief 
industry of Sittingbourne nowadays, and a very large 
and flourishing industry it is ; so much so, indeed, 
that there will be presently nothing of Sittingbourne 
left at all ; because, like maggots that live in cheeses 
— and on them — the Sittingbourne brickmakers find 
their sustenance in the ground on w^hich they live, and 
have carted away nearly all the surrounding country. 
When they have worked down to the chalk and the 
bed-rock, I don't know what they will do. Already 
all the hills have vanished and have been distributed 
over England in the shape of bricks, and when folks 
return who ha^'e known Sittingbourne in their youth, 
they don't recognize the place, and go away wondering 
whether curses will fall upon it because its people have 
thus removed the old landmarks. 

Changed, indeed, it is, not only from those days 
when the great ones of the earth sojourned here, 
but also from those comparativ^ely recent times when 
the traveller's only choice was the road. Then three 
parts of the population were engaged in hotel-keeping, 
licensed-victualling, or coach-building ; innkeepers, 
job-masters, hostlers, post-boys, chamber-maids, and 
boots, were their styles and titles, and if you are 
curious enough to turn the pages of Sittingbourne 
registers you will find such entries as these to be the 
chiefest of their contents : " John Slater, innholder, 
of the White Hart, was buryed, 22nd Feby, 170§ " ; 
or " Joseph, ostler at the Crowne, buryed Oct. 23, 1708." 

When the railway came, ruin, smft and terrible, 
fell upon this busy community. Grass grew in the 
stable-yards ; the old high-hung yellow chariots and 
the light post-chaises rotted to pieces that were used 
to be hired by travellers who did not care so much 
about the price as the pace they went ; the price 
of horses fell ; the vast interiors of the hotels with 
their numberless bedrooms, and one-time cosy coffee- 



158 THE DOVER HO AD 

rooms, echoed to the casual tread of some unfrequent 
guest, uncomfortable and half-frightened at the 
solitary state in which he sat ; hostlers, grooms, and 
washers lounged miserably about the mouldy harness- 
rooms in company with dejected post-boys ; chamber- 
maids departed to other scenes and occupations ; 
and " boots " gradually lost the encyclopaedic know- 
ledge for which he was renowned, and forgot alike 
the number of miles to the next post-town and the 
proper way to clean a pair of Bluchers. 

The last post-boy is dead now, and the chaises 
and the chariots are represented — like so many other 
obsolete things — at the South Kensington Museum ; 
and the typical innkeeper of that day should be 
also, for his like is no more seen on earth. He was 
a burly man with a red, good-humoured, clean-shaven 
face. He wore, frequently, knee-breeches and sleeved 
yellow waistcoats with black stripes that made him 
look, to the youthful imagination, like a great wasp or 
bumble-bee. He wore short white aprons, too, and 
high collars encircling his thick red neck, so that one 
gazed upon him in constant dread of his falling down 
in an apoplectic fit ; he wore — but enough ! Let it be 
said, though, that he resembled a Blue-coat boy in 
one respect, for he was never known to wear a hat. 

All this is changed. Sittingbourne had grown 
into importance because its situation was convenient 
for travellers to stay here to change horses at, and 
when the roads became deserted the place would 
have fallen back into its original obscurity had it 
not been for bricks, hops, and cherries. Bricks, and 
the surrounding fruit country have prospered it 
anew, and have made it what it is ; a dusty, thickly 
populated, dirty town whose old aspect has been 
altered from a broad and roomy street to crowded 
lanes and a High Street filled with frowzy alleys, 
and many Dissenting conventicles of different degrees 
of ugliness. 

Of late years, paper has been added to the interests of 



PAPER 159 

Sittingbourne. Outside the town, on Milton Creek, 
leading muddily to the Swale, there you will find paper 
in its crude wood-pulp stage, as imported from the 
mills in Norway and Sweden, Closely viewed, it is not 
attractive. Slabs of wood-pulp, stacked forty or fifty 
feet high, with a narrow-gauge railway running between 
cliff-like accumulations of this merchandise, present a 
scene made squaHd by the torn and bedraggled 
fragments of paper packing that the winds sport with. 
But, seen from the Swale, or indeed from a distance 
on land, these towering stocks of the raw material for 
newspapers have a peculiarly romantic appearance ; 
looking indeed like a reminiscence of the temples of 
the East, 

The village of Milton itself, properly " Milton 
Regis," is full of queer old corners. The church stands 
aloof, dignified, on a remote country road. In its 
churchyard is a stone mentioning a w^oman w^ho had 
six husbands : — 

" Here lyeth interred the Body of Abraham 
Washiton (sic), late husband of Alise Washinton now 
liveing in Milton, wiiome had in all six Husbands : 
John Ailes, John Ricard, Thomas Gill, John Jeefrre, 
Alexander Flet. Anno 1601." 

It wdll be observed that this lady who collected 
husbands is described as " now liveing." Possibly the 
sixth was not the last ; but by that time the men of 
Milton must have grown rather timid. 

In any case, the history of Mrs. Washinton was 
evidently considered remarkable, to be detailed on this 
stone, either by herself or by the admiring or astonished 
neighbourhood. 

Sittingbourne parish church, and some remaining 
walls of the more ancient inns, are all that need 
detain the stranger. The massive square tower of 
the church, which is a prominent feature of the High 
Street, is the oldest part ; the body of the building 
dates only from the Perpendicular period. To this 
time belongs a singular monumental effigy of a lady, 



160 



THE DOVER ROAD 



placed in a niche of the north chancel wall ; a mys- 
terious figure, represented with an infant wrapped in 
swaddling clothes lying across its wasted breast. 
No inscription remains to tell its story. The church 
fronts on to the highway, and in days of pilgrimage 




YAED OF THE " LIOX " IXX. SITTINGBOURNK. 



(and even so lately as 1830) the bourne to which 
Sittingbourne owes its name, which comes from the 
Anglo-Saxon " Saethingbourne," the seething, or 
bubbling, brook, trickled and welled up in the likeness 



MURSTON 161 

of a sprinor across the road. Through it splashed the 
mounted pilgrims, while the weary-footed palmers 
crossed by stepping-stones, or cooled their feet in the 
water. Many halted to cross themselves, to kneel and 
pray before the figure of Our Lady which filled the 
niche still remaining in the buttress of the Chilton 
Chapel, and was called thence " Saint Mary of the 
Butterasse." This little shrine was defaced in 1540, 
and now the running stream is enclosed in pipes that 
discharge the water into Milton Creek. 

The village of 3Iurston, which at one time skirted 
the road at some distance from Sittingbourne, and 
was in receipt of the town's leavings, is now quite 
undistinguishable by a stranger from the town itself, 
so greatly has the population grown of late years. 
It is quite uninteresting, save for the memory of the 
affray by which the rector, the Reverend Richard 
Tray, was ejected from his living in 1641. A stone 
let into the Rectory wall preserves the record of the 
affair : — 

Si Natvra negat facit Indignntio Versvm. 

The Barue which stood where this now 
Stands was bvrnt down by the Rebel's hands 

in December 1659 
This Barne which stands where tother stood 
By Eichard Tray is now made good, 
in July 1662 
All things yov bvrn, 
Or overtvrn, 
Bvt bvild vp novsht : pray tell 
Is this the Fire of Zeale or Hell ? 
Yet yov doe all 
By the Spirits call 
As yov pretend : bvt pray 
What Spirit is't ? A bad one I dare saj-. 



XXIX 

Five miles and a half down the road from Sittingbourne, 
the pilgrims who had prayed so de^'outly at the shrine 
of Our Lady of the Buttress (and it is to be hoped had 
not forgotten the claims of Swanstree Hermitage) 
came to Ospringc, where they usually found a profuse 



162 THE DOVER ROAD 

hospitality waiting for them at the Maison Dieu. Not 
that there was any lack of religious houses on the way. 
Far from it, indeed. They had not proceeded much 
farther than a mile when they came in those times to 
the Hermitage of Bapchild, with the hermit standing 
on the doorstep, scratching himself with one hand, 
holding out a scolloj^ shell for alms in the other, and 
conjuring them by the blessed Thomas and all the 
hierarchy of saints to spare something for his altar. 
The parish church of Bapchild, which was built in early 
Norman times, before any one dreamed of Canterbury 
becoming a place of pilgrimage, or the high-road 
crowded with a varied concourse of miserable sinners 
anxious to compound for their ill-deeds by visiting the 
scene of the martyrdom, is situated beside a lane at 
some distance from the road, and so was quite out of the 
track of that alms-giving crowd. It grieved the 
Vicar of Bapchild to see these free-handed folks going 
by, with never a mark or even a silver penny coming 
his way, and so he contrived to set up some sort of a cell 
and chapel with a few exceedingly dubious bones in it, 
supposed to be the reliques of saints ; but probably 
grubbed up from his own churchyard. It did not 
matter much whose reliques they were called, for that 
was a credulous age, and so long as there were not two 
skulls of Saint Paulinus on view, or more than a gross of 
Saint Alphege's teeth to be seen at the numberless 
shrines between London and Canterbury, the pilgrims 
were not generally disposed to be critical. It was only 
when Saint Frideswyde appeared, from the osseous 
evidence of these shrines, to have as many arms as 
Vishnu, or when Saint Antholin appeared, from equally 
untrustworthy evidence, to have been in this life a 
Double-headed Nightingale or a kind of Siamese Twins, 
that men on pilgrimage became sceptical. But, after 
all, if saints could perform one kind of a miracle, why 
not another, and why should not Saint Alphege cause 
his teeth to be increased, until a j^eck of them could 
be gathered from the monasteries of Europe, or Saint 



TONG 163 

Aiitholiii not have his skulls miraculously multiplied 
if they had a mind to it ; and if Saint Frideswyde 
could be proved to have been possessed of half a dozen 
arms, was it not for the good, if not of the church, at 
least of the clergy, that it should be so ? And so, it is 
to be hoped that the Vicar and the Hermit, between 
them, did well ; and also it is to be hoped that the 
Hermit took more advantage, for washing purposes, of 
the little stream which here also flowed across the 
roadway than his brethren were wont to do. 

The road between Ospringe and Sittingbourne was 
in those days very lonely, and lonely it still remains, 
for the settlements of Bapchild, Radfield, and Green- 
street are but dull and dishevelled collections of tiny 
shops and cottages, with here and there a slumberous 
old inn or whitewashed farmhouse. The railway to 
Dover runs on the left hand, within sight of the 
highway, through the beautiful cherry-orchards and 
the hop-gardens, and the land slopes gently down to the 
levels of Teynham and the fertile though ague-stricken 
marshes of the Swale ; that part of Kent where, 
according to the old local saying, there is " wealth 
Avithout health " ; significantly alluded to in the 
rhyme — 

He that would not live long, 

Let him live at Murston, Teynham, or Tong. 

Tong Castle, where Rowena " drank hael " to King 
Vortigern and captivated that very susceptible but 
unpatriotic monarch ; the scene also of the treacherous 
murder by Hengist and his men of three hundred 
British nobles, is represented now only by a grassy 
mound. Here we are in the centre of the hop-growing 
districts, and the road begins to be bordered with 
hop-gardens, bare in autumn and Avinter, except for 
the great stacks of poles ; but beautiful in spring 
and summer with the climbing bine, planted in long 
alleys in which women and children work in the long 
summer days, weeding and tying up the hops, and 
hanging up the wind-screens called '' lews." For the 



164 THE DOVER ROAD 

hop- vine is a delicate plant that requires as much 
cossetting and constant attention as an invalid, and 
if it is not carefully tended and trained up in the way it 
should go, it presently droops and dies or becomes too 
weak to climb up the long twelve- and fifteen-feet poles 
which it is expected to surmount. And so it is jealously 
shielded from all draughts and boisterous breezes by 
long pieces of canvas or string netting, stretched from 
})ole to pole at that side of the gardens whence come the 
prevailing winds ; while every hop-pole is tied so 
scrupulously and elaborately to its fellow that a June 
hop-garden is a very maze of string. 

To these gardens come in August and September 
hundreds of men, women, and children from London 
slums ; some by train, many more by road. Whole 
families of them, with their clothing, their pots and 
l^ans and sooty kettles, slung over their shoulders, 
come tramping down the weary miles, and fill the air 
with ribaldry, strange oaths, and horrible blasphemy. 
The villagers keep them at arm's length, if not, indeed, 
at a greater distance than that, and keep their children 
at home ; going round their gardens and orchards at 
night, to see that gates are locked ; and, bolting doors 
and latching windows securel}^, go to bed and dream 
dreams in which evil-looking hoppers are stealing their 
fruit and making away with the occupants of their 
hen-roosts. Sometimes they wake up and find the 
crashing of branches, the screaming and clucking of 
cocks and hens, which have formed the subjects of their 
dreams, to have foundation in fact, and hurriedly 
dashing out of bed, arrive, barefooted and armed only 
with a poker, in their gardens just in time to see 
mysterious figures vanish over the wall and to hear the 
protests of their stolen fowls grow small by degrees and 
beautifully less in the distance. Next day the bereaved 
villager is heard to execute fruitless variations of 
" Tell me, shepherv^'s, have you seen my Flora pass 
this way ? " and some enterprising emigrants from 
Whitechapel feast royally on poultry. 



OSPRINGE 165 

Just where the hilltoj) rises and looks down hi the 
direction of Ospringe, the wisdom of the Faversham 
authorities has planted a Hospital for infectious 
diseases. It fronts the road, and has a very large 
door with '' Isolation Hospital " painted on it in very 
small letters. Tramps and beggars passing by see 
a large house where possibly something may be begged 
or stolen. They go up to the door, and, after reading 
the legend painted there, may be seen to proceed 
hurriedly on their way. Without standing on the order 
of their going, they go at once. Omne ignohim jyrn 
magnifico : they don't know what " isolation " means, 
but they hurry off, lest they should catch isolation and 
die of it. And so they come, stricken with a mortal 
fear, into Ospringe, down a dusty hill. A Maison Dieu 
that stood here in olden times would perhajDS have 
received them then., but to-day the few fragments of it 
that remain are part of the " Red Lion " inn, and 
tramps find no encouragement there. 

The Knights Templar and the Brethren of the 
Holy Ghost held this Hospital for travellers for many 
years, from the time of Henry the Second, and they 
exercised a lavish hospitality, extended to all, from 
the King downwards. King John had a room here — 
a camera 7'egis—a.nd other monarchs frequently made 
this a haltuig-place on their way to or from Dover. 
Very few records are left of the f eastings and jolli- 
fications that took place in this semi-religious, semi- 
secular retreat, and Ospringe has no longer any Royal 
visitors. The village consists of a long street beside 
the highway at the foot of Judd's Hill, and of a shorter 
street, called Water Lane, that runs off at right angles 
where the remains of the Maison Dieu stand beside the 
stream to which Ospringe owes its rather pretty name. 
At one time this stream flowed openly across the road- 
way, but it is bridged now, and Water Lane, which 
had a raised footpath on either side, while the lane 
itself was occupied by the stream, through which 
horses and carts splashed, has now been drained dry. 



166 THE DOVER ROAD 

The " Anchor Hotel " was once a posting-house 
and a stopping-place on the route of local coaches 
between Chatham and Heme Bay, but this traffic has 
of course been long discontinued. The modern 
pilgrim should not fail, before leaving Ospringe, to 
explore Water Lane and the country road for half a mile 
beyond. The place abounds in old cottages, 
picturesque windmills, and old timbered houses of 
some pretensions. Of these. Queen Hall is probably 
the most interesting. Beyond it is the parish church, 
a very large building with a tower of grand design and 
unusual type. The edifice has been thoroughly and 
unusually well restored, with an exquisite taste 
unfortunately too rare in country districts, and may be 
instanced as an example of what " restoration " should 
be. The approach to the church by the road is past 
hop-gardens which group beautifully, and form an 
excellent motive for a sketch. 



XXX 

Eaversham town, lying a mile distant, between 
Eaversham Creek and the turnpike road, will doubtless 
in the course of a few years adjoin Ospringe, and 
convert the village into a mere suburb. Preston, the 
old suburb of Eaversham, is distant something over 
a mile, but in between there have lately been built 
very many new streets of cottages and villas, evidences 
of Faversham's prosperity, doubtless, but not pleasing 
to the tourist. That prosperit}^ is due to its situation 
upon a navigable creek, along which are pursued the 
trades of brick and tile making, and the manufacture of 
gunpowder ; and the oyster fishery, which adds 
such a great proportion of wealth to this flourishing 
county of Kent, is largely centred here. 

The surrounding country, too, is probably the very 
richest and most suitable district for the growing of 




40 



t:::v| 



!'\U 


I^!i"i- 


r.; 


;!: 




168 THE DOVER ROAD 

cherries, orooseberries, currants, and strawberries ; and 
the frequency and perfection of the market-gardens, 
orchards, and hojD-gardens strike the pedestrian with 
admiration and amazement. A visit in early spring, 
when the orchards are in blossom, and others in the 
cherry- and hop-picking seasons, convince the 
sceptical that Kent is, in sober truth, the " garden of 
England." The stranger needs but to spend a week 
between this and Canterbury ; to tramp the high-road 
and the bye-lanes in the direction of Heme Hill and 
Whitstable, and he will see abundant evidences of how 
important is the fruit-growing industry, not only in the 
fields and gardens, where he may see the fruit growing, 
but also in the great barns and outhouses bursting with 
many, thousands of bushel-baskets only awaiting the 
ripening of the cherries and currants to be filled and 
put upon the rails at Faversham Junction, whence 
numerous special trains are daily run during the season 
to London and the Borough Market. Somewhat 
earlier in the year-^generally in mid-June — other 
evidences of the magnitude of the fruit interest are 
seen in the auctioneers' sale bills posted on every 
available board and fence, announcing that the 
growing crops are presently to be sold by auction. 

But, in spite of the fertility of Kentish orchards, 
the countryman will not forego his privilege of 
grumbling. Singularly enough, he never thinks of 
eating any of the fruit he grows, and the more plentiful 
the crops, the less pleased he professes himself to be. 
Not that, should you come upon him at a season when 
plenty is less marked, he will be any the more gratified. 
Hold the peasant proprietor of an orchard in conversa- 
tion during the fruit season, and you will think him 
one of the most miserable and unfortunate men in the 
country. 

" Good day to you," you say. 

(Hodge nods his head, and mumbles, " Mor'n'n.") 

" Splendid croi3s you have down here. I should 
think things must be going pretty well in these parts ? " 



DISCONTENTED FARMERS 169 

" Ay, goin' to the Devil fast enow, I'se warrand." 

" Oh ! how d'you make that out ? " 

" Make it out, is it ? Why, look a-here at them 
there turmuts ; d'you iver see sich poor things ; a}^ 
an' all the root crops is bad's can be." 

" Yes ; but you^re all right with your fruit ; cherries 
and apples," 

" M'yes, there's a dale o' fruit this year : darned 
sight too much ter please me." 

" But you can't ^'ery well have too much of a good 
thing, can you ? " 

" Can't you just, though ; look at the price ; down 
ter nothing, as you might say. Get it for the asking." 

" But / didn't get cherries for the asking ; / had 
to pay eightpence a 2:)ound for some I bought at 
Chatham." 

" Oh ! I dessay. Wish / c'd git a penny a pound. 
But that's jist like them 'ere starv'em, rob'em, and 
cheat'em folks. Wouldn't give 'ee so much's the 
parings o' their finger-nails if they c'd help it." 

" Then why don't you make preserves of some of 
your fruit ? " 

" Preserves ? what's that, mister ? " 

" Why, jam, you know. Besides, surely you eat 
some of your own fruit, don't you ? " 

" Fruit's to sell, not to heat ! " 

" Well, then, if you can't sell it, don't preserve it, 
and won't eat any of it, zvhat do you do with it ? " 

" Give it ter the pigs, in coorse ! " 

" Yes, but why not eat some of it yourself ? " 

" Heat it ! D'yer take me for a bloomin' Nebuchad- 
nezzar ? Besides, it's that there ondergestuble ! " 

" But Nebuchadnezzar didn't eat fruit. He hadn't 
got the chance, poor fellow. He could only find grass 
to eat." 

" Grass 'ood'n't be so ondergestuble as fruit, I reckon. 
Blame me if you town folks don't think a man can 
live on nothink. Now, a pound or two o' steak, a 
few rashers o' fat bacon, an' a few heggs for bre'kfuss 



170 THE DOVER ROAD 

— that's more my line. Hexpeck a Christian man to 
heat fruit ! " 

" But you expect people to buy yours, don't you ? " 

" Naw, I don't hexpeck nothin'." 

" Then why do you grow it ? " 

" Bekause I suppose I'm a fool ; that's about the 
size of it. Good day t'ye, mister." 



XXXI 

The history of Faversham town is extremely long and 
interesting, but as it does not lie on the direct road to 
Dover, it will not be necessary to go into a very detailed 
account of it. It is a curious, half-maritime borough 
whose Mayor wears a chain of office decorated with 
badges of oars and rudders ; a town whose records 
include such events as the burial of King Stephen, his 
Queen, and his son Eustace ; and at a very much later 
date, the attempted escape of James the Second. 
Faversham fishermen recognized the fugitive King as 
he crouched, shivering in the hoy at Shellness on that 
bitter December morning of 1688, and, robbing him 
of his watch and chain and his money, they brought 
him a prisoner to the Mayor's house, where he was 
detained two days, guarded by a mob of countrymen, 
on whom his terror-stricken appeals to be allowed to 
escape had no effect. 

" He who is not with me is against me," exclaimed 
the frantic bigot. " My blood will be upon your heads 
if I fall a martyr." But the dignity of a martyr was 
not to be his. A troop of Life-guards was sent to 
effect his release from the ignorant mob, who only 
refrained from stealing his diamond shoe-buckles 
because they thought them to be pieces of glass. 
James's terror of the Faversham fishers is reflected in 
his manifesto issued years afterwards, in which he offers 
an amnesty to his " rebel subjects," but expressly 



FAVERSHAM 171 

excepts such arch-traitors as Churchill, Danby, and the 
poor oyster-dredgers of Faversham. 

Saints Crispin and Crispianus, who have a public- 
house dedicated to them at Strood, had an altar here 
in the Abbey Church, and were supposed to have lived 
a while at Preston, earning their living as cobblers 
in a cottage that stood where the " Swan " inn is now. 
Long after the Reformation had done sway with the 
shrine of Saint Thomas, pious bootmakers made 
pilgrimages to the place ; and St. Crispin's Day was 
for centuries the principal holiday in Faversham. 
I would rather make pilgrimage to the place where 
they earned their living than to the shrines of all the 
sanctified humbugs who contended for pride of place 
in this world, and becoming worsted in the struggle 
for supremacy, received their Canonization as a matter 
of course. 

Faversham in the fifteenth century was not less 
well-furnished with religious cranks than the holy road 
to Canterbury. There was an anchorite in one corner 
of Faversham churchyard, and an anchoress in another, 
and in their cells they sat and sulked their lives away, 
and never did any work. William Thornbury was 
rector here for twenty-two years, when he resigned his 
living especially to become an inclusus ; and for eight 
years he occupied a damp and most uncomfortable 
cell amid the tombs, until he died, most likely of 
rheumatic fever, in 1481. There is a most beautiful 
brass to him in the church, with a long Latin verse, 
recounting how he was one of the elect, and how for 
long years he sat lonely in his cell. Why he should have 
lived such a life is a question which we, who are so 
far removed from that age, both by lapse of time and 
in change of thought, cannot readily answer. That he 
was a man of good birth, good position, and consider- 
able wealth, would appear from his will, and these 
circumstances make his reclusion only the more 
extraordinary. He probably suffered either from 
religious mania, or else from a guilty conscience which 



172 THE DOVER ROAD 

led him thus to compound with Heaven for some 
undiscovered crime that made his Ufe a misery. 

But the traveller who keeps strictly to his Dover 
Road only passes through Faversham suburbs. Preston 
is the oldest of them, and lies directly on the road. 
To the left rises Faversham's fantastic spire, con- 
spicuous above the flats ; immediately in front goes the 
railway in a cutting underneath the road ; and straight 
ahead, in the far distance, rises up a long thin white 
line amid hillsides clothed heavily with forests. It is 
long before the stranger discovers what is that singular 
white streak upon the dark trees, but it reveals itself, 
as he goes, as the famous Boughton Hill, and the wood- 
lands as the extensive remains of Blean Forest. 

It was at " Boughton-under-the-Blee " that Chaucer's 
Canon and Yeoman overtook the pilgrims. The Canon's 
hat hung down his back by a lace, for he had ridden 
as though he were mad. Under his hood he had 
placed a burdock-leaf to cool his head, but yet his 
forehead dropped like a still that was full of plantain 
and wallflower. The Canon's Yeoman tells the pilgrims 
how pleased his master would be of their company as 
far as Canterbury ; and the Host makes him welcome, 
asking if his master can please the party with a merry 
story. " A story ? " asks the Yeoman ; " that is 
nothing to what the Canon can do. He is an Alchemist, 
and so clever that — 

" all this ground on which we be riding, 
Till that we come to Canterbury town, 
He could all cleane turnen up so down. 
And pave it all of silver and of gold.** 

" Ah ! " says Harry Bailly, the Host, " that's all very 
well, you know, but how is it that this wonderful 
master of yours wears such a threadbare coat ? " To 
this query, the Yeoman is bound to answer that his 
master is too clever by half, or not clever enough, and 
that he has, for all his alchemy, only wasted his 
substance and that of many more. The Canon hears 
something of this, and bidding his servant hold his 



BOUGHTON 173 

tongue, makes off for very shame, while the Yeoman 
tells the story that brings the party to Harbledown. 



XXXII 

Boughtox-undek-Blean is perhaps the neatest, 
quietest, longest, and most cheerfully picturesque 
^'illage on the Dover Road. It lies near the foot of 
the hill. Half-way up is the church. 

In the churchyard of Boughton there is a great 
yew-tree whose girth at three feet from the ground 
was taken by the vicar in 1894. It was then 9 ft. 9 in. 
The age of this tree is exactly known, for a seventeenth 
century vicar, the Reverend John Johnson, recorded, 
'' the little yew-tree by the south doer was sett in 
1695." The yew, therefore, expands one foot in 
sixty-one years. 

One or two country houses with large gardens and 
trimly cut hedges occupy the crest of the hill ; and 
just beyond, on the level plateau of Dunkirk, is the 
church, built in 1840, as some means toward civilizing 
the untutored savages the villagers of this beautiful 
county had become under the neglect of that Christian 
Church Avhose Metropolitan Cathedral rises proudly 
beyond the hillside village of Harbledown, less than 
three miles away. God in His goodness has blessed 
with a boundless fertility the fair land of Kent, so that 
old Michael Drayton merely exj)ressed facts when he 
wrote that rapturous eulogy — 

O famous Kent 1 

What county hath this isle that can compare with thee ? 
That hath within thyself as much as thou canst wish ; 
Thy rabbits, venison, fruits, thy sorts of fowl and fish ; 
As what with strength compares, thy hay, thy corn, 
Xor anything doth want that anywhere is good. 

But, long after the first quarter of the nineteenth 
century had passed, this part of Kent was peopled 
with a peasantry compared with whom the Hindoos 



17i THE DOVER ROAD 

and the Chinese, who were even then receiving the 
warm attention of missionary zealots, were highly 
civilized and enlightened. The very county in which 
Augustine had landed and reintroduced Christianity 
thirteen hundred years before was neglected and 
ignored by the port-drinking parsons and prebendal 
wine-butts who drew fat incomes from the Church and 
starved the souls of dwellers under its very shadow ; 
and the kindly fruits of this fertile land, with its furred 
and feathered game, brought no prosperity to the 
people. " The earth is the Squire's and the fulness 
thereof " was an emendation of Holy Writ scored 
deeply in every yokel's brain ; and here, whither a 
fervent piety had brought uncounted thousands of 
pilgrims in the by-past centuries, the country-folk 
lived from youth to age, Godless and unlettered. The 
Era of Reform had dawned on England, sweeping away 
much, both good and evil, but these dark districts of 
Kent remained the same, save for a slowly growing 
feeling of discontent. The New Poor Law naturally 
fostered this feeling in a country where every other 
peasant lived in old age upon Outdoor Relief — and 
thought it the most reasonable way of ending a life 
of toil. By this new dispensation it became necessary 
for a poor man to break up his home and go into the 
'' Union " before relief could be afforded him ; and 
thus the Poors' Rates were raised and the feelings of 
ratepayers and peasantry embittered simultaneously. 
A man who felt no shame in receiving his half-crown or 
five shillings a week from the parish, experienced bitter 
degradation in becoming an inmate of what is now 
generally known as " the House," then hateful under 
the current name of " the Bastille," or " Bastyle," as 
the English peasant pronounced the word. 

To this neglected corner of England came a romantic 
and mysterious stranger in 1832. No one knew whence 
or how had come to Canterbury the picturesquely 
dressed man of commanding height and handsome 
face who, staying at the " Rose Hotel "in the High 



" COURTENAY " 175 

Street, soon attracted attention by his manner and the 
Eastern style of dress he affected. That he was 
fabulously rich, and that his name was Baron 
Rothschild were the common reports of the then 
somewhat dull Cathedral city, eager to dwell upon any 
subject that made for gossip ; but it presently appeared, 
by his own accounts, that he was " Sir William Percy 
Honey wood Courtenay," Knight of Malta and King of 
Jerusalem. This extraordinary man, besides possessing 
the advantages of a handsome face and a fine presence, 
was gifted with a singularly persuasive eloquence ; and 
professing himself to be the friend of the people, 
oppressed by a selfish aristocracy and a stupid Govern- 
ment, he aroused the wildest enthusiasm in a political 
campaign upon which he presently embarked, with the 
object of standing as Parliamentary candidate for the 
City of Canterbury. His charm of manner ; the 
affability with which he would converse with the 
meanest peasant ; and the really clever political 
discourses he wrote for a periodical leaflet called the 
Lion which he had printed and published, created a 
number of partisans who flocked round him as he rode 
through Canterbury and the surrounding villages ; or 
crowded the High Street in a state of the ^vildest 
enthusiasm when he harangued them from the balcony 
of the " Rose." He polled over nine hundred votes 
in the Conservative interest at the election, and thus 
came within an easy distance of becoming a member 
of Parliament. His indiscreet championship of some 
fishermen, who were being prosecuted by the Revenue 
officials for smuggling, gave political and social enemies 
the looked-for opportunity to injure a man who was 
so dangerous to the squires of Kent. He was prosecuted 
in turn, on a charge of perjury, and sentenced to a 
term of imprisonment. From the County Gaol he was 
transferred to a lunatic asylum, and only liberated in 
the spring of 1838, on the assurances of friends in the 
vicinity of Canterbury that they would take charge 
of him. 



176 THE DOVER ROAD 

Religious mania, seems to have attacked the weak 
brain of this excitable enthusiast while in confinement, 
and his conduct presently became more eccentric than 
before. Roaming in the country villages, preaching 
religious and political salvation to the small farmers, 
the cottagers, and poor agricultural labourers of Kent, 
he aroused greater enthusiasm and personal love than 
before. He had always represented himself to be a 
member of the Courtenay family, whose head, the 
Earl of DcA'on, claims descent from Palaeologus, 
King of Jerusalem in early Crusading times ; and, in 
addition, he announced himself as the rightful heir 
to a number of important estates in Kent and neigh- 
bouring counties. He let it be known that he, the 
noble Sir William Courtenay, Knight of Malta, and 
rightful King of Jerusalem, was not too proud to 
partake of food and shelter at the board and under 
the roof of the poorest. When he came in power, and 
claimed his rights, the oppressed should live freely 
on the land ; the cruel New^ Poor La^v that shut 
unfortunate men and women out from the world in 
'' Bastilles," as though Poverty were a crime, and 
separated man and wife, Avhom God had declared by 
his handmaid, the Church, man should not put 
asunder, should be abrogated ; and the workers should 
have a share in the products of their toil. The people 
largely responded to these ad^"ances ; and poor folk, 
together with a number of the class who had earned 
themselves a small competency, and a few moneyed 
people, believed thoroughly in Courtenay. He was 
now a man whom many held to have been persecuted 
and imprisoned for his championship of the people, 
and they lo\^cd him for it, many of them with a who'e- 
souled devotion that culminated in worship. 
Courtenay's extraordinary facial resemblance to the 
traditional appearance of the Saviour, and, finally, his 
ultimate assumption of the character of the Messiah, led 
many people to believe that Christ was actually come on 
earth to commence His promised reign ; and enter- 



ISI^^. 




SIR WILLIAM COUUTEXAY." From an old print. 



N 



BATTLE OF BOSSENDEN 179 

tainment, encouragement, and monetary contributions 
attended on their belief. 

Matters came to a crisis toward the end of May. 
Courtenay had marched the country round with 
agricultural labourers and others who had left their 
work in the fields to follow the Lord, and the farmers 
who thus saAv their fields remaining untilled grew 
anxious. One, bolder than the rest, applied to the 
magistrate for the detention of his men who had thus 
left their employment ; and, with a local constable 
named Mears and two others, he came up with 
Courtenay's band on the morning of May 31st. 

Ever since the 28th of that month, Courtenay had 
been tramping the roads and lanes with a band of 
about one hundred rustics. Starting from Boughton 
on that day, they had bought bread, and, placing 
half a loaf on a pole, above a blue-and-white flag bearing 
a lion rampant, had marched through Goodnestone, 
Hernhill, and Dargate Common, where they all fell 
down on their knees while Courtenay prayed. Then 
they proceeded to Bossenden Farm, where they supped 
and slept in a barn. Leaving Bossenden at three 
o'clock the next morning, their leader took them to 
Sittingbourne, where he procured breakfast for the 
whole party at a cost of 25s. The rest of the day was 
spent in parading the country round Boughton, and 
the next evening was spent again at Bossenden Farm. 
The following morning, Mears the constable, with his 
l)arty of three, came up with them in a meadow, and 
demanded the surrender of the farmers' men. The men 
refused to leave, and Courtenay shot the constable dead 
on the spot. Alarmed at this, the others rode off 
hastily to Canterbury for military assistance, while 
Courtenay administered the sacrament to his men 
in bread-and-water. All knelt down and worshipped 
him, and a farmer, one Alexander Foad, kneeling, 
asked '' should he follow him in body or in heart ? " 
" In the body," replied Courtenay ; whereupon Foad 
sprang up, exclaiming, " Oh ! be joyful, be joyful ! 



180 



THE DOVER ROAD 



The Saviour has accepted me. Go on, go on, I'll 
follow thee till I drop ! " 

When the terrified three reached Canterbury, they 
secured the aid of a company of the Forty-fifth 
Regiment. A young officer, Lieutenant Bennett, 
staying with friends in the city, volunteered to go 




COUKTENAY. 



From an old inivt. 



with them. Coming to Bossenden, they found 
Courtenay and his hundred followers strongly posted 
amid alder-bushes in a deep and sequestered part of 
Bossenden Wood. Courtenay exhorted his people to 
behave like men. " God," he said, " would protect 
him and them. Should he fall, he would infallibly rise 
again in greater glory than now ; and wounds for his 
sake would be accounted for righteousness." 



DEATH OF "COURTENAY" 181 

Lieutenant Bennett advanced and called upon them 
to surrender, but Courtenay, raising his pistol, shot 
him dead, and his men leapt out from the woods 
furiously, armed only ^\^th cudgels and fanaticism, 
to attack the soldiers. One volley, however, stretched 
many dying, or bleeding from severe wounds, upon 
the ground, and Courtenay himself fell mortally 
wounded, exclaiming, " I have Jesus in my heart." 

Thirteen people in all were killed in this affray : 
Mears the constable. Lieutenant Bennett, and Cour- 
tenay ; eight " rioters " dying on the spot, and two 
others afterwards succumbing to their wounds. Many 
more were crippled for life. Twenty-three were 
committed to gaol : some transported across the seas, 
and others sentenced to short terms of imprisonment 
at home. Some of the men were buried in Boughton 
Churchyard, others at Hernhill, three miles away, 
overlooking the rich land that slopes towards the sea. 
Here Courtenay was buried, but the graves of himself 
and his men are unmarked by stone or mound. The 
fanaticism of the peasantry was not altogether 
extinguished by this dreadful ending, and the tale is 
told, on excellent authority, of a woman drawing 
water from a well and walking half a mile with it to 
moisten the lips of the dead leader, who had said that, 
should he fall, a drop of water applied to his mouth 
would restore him from death to life. The barbarous 
expedients of keeping his body in a shed of the 
" Red Lion " at Dunkirk until corruption had set in, 
and of omitting the resurrection clause from the 
Burial Service were resorted to, lest the country folk 
should persist in their belief of his divinity. 

Thus ended the so-called " Courtenay Rebellion " 
of 1838. When he was dead, it became generally 
known that " Sir William Courtenay " was really but 
John Nichols Thom, the son of a Cornish innkeeper 
and farmer. Always a clever and handsome lad, he 
had grown up still more handsome, but with a religious 
enthusiasm and a romantic imagination inherited from 



1S2 THE DOVER ROAD 

his mother. He was for a tmie employed at Truro, 
but disappeared for some years until his strange descent 
upon Canterbury in 1832. 

The " Red Lion," where the bodies of the dead 
were laid out, stands by the roadside at Dunkirk, and 
a cart-road on the hither side of it, to the left hand, 
made long after this extraordinary affair, and called 
" Courtenay Road," leads down to the still wild and 
thickly grown woods of hazel, alder, and miscellaneous 
scrub in which Bossenden Woods are situated. A gate 
— " Courtenay Gate " — stands by the scene of the 
struggle, but the trees marked at the time by the 
rustics in memory of Courtenay and his men, are not 
now to be discovered. The villagers still bear him 
in memory, and truly he deserves to be kept in mind, 
for though as "Sir William Courtenay" he was an 
impostor, yet he truly loved the people, and his 
naturally highly-strung mental organization, com- 
pletely unstrung by an unnecessary imprisonment, 
was responsible for his religious pretensions and his 
blasphemous impersonation towards the end. Worse 
men than he are honoured in history and in public 
monuments, and it seems a pity that a childish spite 
should have hidden his grave and the graves of the 
poor fellows who fell that day. The pilgrim who 
takes an interest in these strange events, happening 
in this century, and in the reign of Queen Victoria, 
and who happens to visit the secluded village of 
Hernhill, may look for the site of " Sir William 
Courtenay 's " resting-place beside the path where a 
yew-tree spreads a shade over the west entrance to 
the village church. 

His death did good. The Government ordered a 
Commission to sit and inquire into the state of things 
that produced these events, and it appeared that the 
district was Godless and ignorant, a fit ground for 
fanaticism to spring up in and flourish. Schools 
were built, and the church of Dunkirk owes its existence 
to Courtenay 's Rebellion. The superstitious country- 



DUNKIRK 183 

men who say the foundations of the building gave way- 
several times before the walls could be commenced 
properly, declare that his ghost haunted the place. 
But, whatever else these doings teach, they teach us that 
a spirit of selfishness, of neglect, both on the part of 
Church and State, brings its inevitable retribution. 
The punishment fell then on these ignorant hinds ; 
what should be the punishment in the hereafter of 
those who were morally responsible for the shedding 
of their blood ? 



XXXIII 

Dunkirk was anciently a common in the Forest of 
Blean, and was a veritable Alsatia, the resort of 
lawless men who squatted here because it was not 
within any known jurisdiction. Hasted, in his 
History of Kent, says houses were built here and 
" inhabited by low persons of suspicious character, this 
being a place exempt from the jurisdiction of either 
hundred or parish, as in a free port, which receives all 
who enter it, without distinction. The whole district 
from hence gained the name of ' Dunkirk.' " This part 
of the road, being in neither hundred or parish, was 
neglected and left in a ruinous state until nearly the 
close of the eighteenth century. 

At Dunkirk, on passing the " Gate " inn, with its sign 
of a five-barred field-gate hanging over the road, the 
traveller obtains his first glimpse of Canterbury 
Cathedral, the Bell Harr}^ tower rising grey above 
the green valley of the Stour. Now the road goes 
downwards towards Harbledown in a succession of 
switchback u])s and downs that, noticeable enough 
for remark even at this lapse of time, must have 
been much more marked in Chaucer's day. Here 
the pilgrims would see the Cathedral faintly from 
the crest of a hillock, losing it for a few minutes as 
they rode or tramped down the succeeding declivity, 



184 THE DOVER ROAD 

and regaining it on the next hill ; until, coming to 
Harbledown, its majesty burst upon them in an 
uninterrupted vieAV. The striking characteristics of 
the road here were noted by Chaucer himself, who, 
indeed, does not mention Harbledown by name ; the 
description is alone sufficient to identify the place : — 

Wist ye not where standetli a little toiin, 
Which that ycleped is Bob-up-and-doiin, 
Under the Blee in Canterbury way. 

Here the weary pilgrims made their last halt. The 
levity ; the fun and frolic ; the sound of songs and 
bagpipes ceased, and the seekers of Saint Thomas fell 
down upon their knees in the dusty road when they 
caught sight of the golden angel that then crowned 
the Bell Harry tower. Tears running down the 
cheeks of all, the pious and the indifferent alike 
resigned themselves to a religious ecstasy ; and when 
they at length resumed their journey, Chaucer's 
company of pilgrims rode slowly into the Holy City, 
listening to a sermon in place of the curious tales with 
which they had hitherto beguiled the way. 

Harbledown stood then on the borders of the great 
" Bosco de Blean." The " little town," now a mile- 
long stretch of disconnected cottages, was much 
smaller, clustering round the parish church on one 
side of the road, and the Hospital for Lepers, with 
its chapel and rows of cottages, on the other. Down 
the road, the houses of Canterbury were to be seen 
nestling for protection against the Castle and Cathedral, 
while on the other hand stretched the dark forest, 
with the Archbishop's gallows standing on a clearing 
in front. For not only did the dignified clergy point 
the way to the after life ; they not infrequently helped 
their sheep on the way by means of rope or stake. 

As the pilgrims passed that old Lepers' Hospital, 
founded by Lanfranc in 1084, on this breezy and 
healthful hillside, whence rose the sweet smell of the 
herbs for which Harbledown (= Herbal down) has 



ERASMUS AND COLET 185 

derived its name, one of the brethren of this charitable 
foundation would come out and sprinkle them \^dth 
holy water, presenting the shoe of Saint Thomas to be 
kissed, and praying them for the love of God and the 
Blessed Martyr to give something towards the support 
of the poDr lepers of Saint Nicholas. Rarely did the 
pilgrims fail to do so, and this institution must, in the 
course of years, have become very wealthy. Henry the 
Second ; Richard Lion Heart, come home again from 
captivity ; Edward the First, with Eleanor of Castile, 
on his return from Palestine ; the Black Prince, with 
his captives, those trophies of Poictiers — King John of 
France and his son Philip — and many another must 
have enriched the place. John of France, on his way 
home, gave ten gold crowns " pour les nonnains de 
Harbledown," and never, surely, before nor since, has 
an old shoe brought so much luck as Becket's brought 
here. For centuries the devout came and pressed their 
lips to it, dropping coins into the wooden alms-box 
that is still shown, together with a mazer inscribed with 
the deeds of Guy of Warwick, and containing the great 
crystal with which the shoe was decorated. But times 
change and habits of thought with them, and although 
the scenery remains as of old, little else is left of the 
days of pilgrimage. How like the present aspect of 
the place is to the appearance it presented three 
hundred and eighty years ago may be seen from the 
writings of Disiderius Erasmus. 

When Erasmus and Dean Colet were returning 
in 1512 from their unconventional pilgrimage to 
Canterbury, they came, two miles from the city, to a 
steep and narrow part of the road, overhung by high 
banks on either side. The scenery is the same as 
then. The selfsame banks of an equal abruptness still 
rise above the road ; the rough and crazy flight of 
steps still leads up to the gateway of Lanfranc's old 
Hospital for Lepers, the Hospital of Harbledown. 
The immemorial yews are here even now ; one still 
flourishing, the other decayed. But the Hospital has 



186 THE DOVER ROAD 

been rebuilt, and only the grey old Church of Samt 
Nicholas remains. Modern pilgrims, too, may pass 
without the attentions at one time bestowed on all 
who passed this way ; attentions which disgusted the 
stern and matter-of-fact Colet, and amused his some- 
what cynically-humorous companion. When they 
came to the gateway of the Hospital, there tottered 
down the steps an aged bedesman, and, sprinkling 
plentifully with holy water both themselves and their 
liorses, he stepped forward, presenting the upper- 
leather of an old shoe, bound in brass and ornamented 
with a great crj^stal, to be kissed. This was the 
remnant of the Holy Shoe of Thomas a Becket, one 
of the most revered and valued possessions of the 
Hospital, kissed reverently by many thousands of 
pilgrims of every degree, and a great aid to the flow 
of alms. But Colet, who had already seen too much 
of this combined hero- and relic-worship, could no 
longer restrain the wrath which had been rising ever 
since he had left the shrine down below, with its old 
bones and dirty rags. He was covered, too, with the 
holy water which the old man had so recklessly 
showered on them. " What ! "he shouted to Erasmus, 
" Do these asses expect us to kiss the shoes of all 
good men that have ever lived ? Why, they might 
as well bring us their spittle to be kissed, or other 
bodily excrements ! " The ancient bedesman was hurt, 
and possibly, had he been a younger man, he would 
have hurt this scoffer in return. However, he said 
nothing, and the cynical Erasmus (for cynicism ahvayfi 
goes with a really kind heart) gave him a small coin, 
less from piety, you may be sure, than as a salve to 
his wounded feelings. And then they went away. 

The shoe has vanished, but the crystal is still a 
valued, if not valuable, possession of the institution, 
and may be handled by the curious who can reflect 
upon its having also been touched by those two 
pilgrims, Erasmus the learned writer, and Colet the 
founder of Saint Paul's School. 



CANTERBURY 187 



XXXIV 



The entrance to Canterbury from London is one of 
the most impressive approaches to a city to be found 
in all England. The traveller passes through the 
suburb of Saint Dunstan, by the old parish church 
that holds the severed head of Sir Thomas More, 
coming into the city through a street of ancient 
houses and under the postern arch of West Gate. 
The great drum towers of West Gate mark the ancient 
limits of the mediaeval city, and guard an opening 
in the city wall which stood on the further side of the 
little river Stour. A drawbridge effectually prevented 
the entrance of an enemy, and when the strongly- 
guarded gate was closed at nightfall, belated citizens 
had to stay outside and put up with the inconvenience 
as best they could, in company with such travellers 
and pilgrims as arrived late from too much story- 
telling, feasting, or praying, on the road. For the 
accommodation of these travellers the suburbs of 
Saint Dunstan and West Gate arose early without the 
walls of the city, and several inns — the " Star " and 
the " Falstaff " among them — remain to show how 
considerable was the belated company entertained here. 

West Gate, as we now see it, is the successor of a 
much earher gate, and was built by the ill-fated Simon 
of Sudbury. It is the only one remaining of all the 
seven gates of the city, and owes its preservation 
rather to its convenience as a prison for poor debtors, 
than to any love our eighteenth-century barbarians 
had for mediaeval architecture. It is to-day a police- 
station, and thus carries on the frugal and utilitarian 
traditions which originally spared it in the destruction 
of much else of beauty and interest. 

Ancient buildings are carefully preserved noAvadays. 
Why ? Can we flatter ourselves that the provincial 
mind is more enlightened ? I am afraid not, and 
must sorrowfully come to tlie conclusion that the 



1S8 THE DOVER ROAD 

ifrnorant authorities of our countr}^ towns would be 
as ready as ever to demolish their old monuments, 
did not their natural shrewdness teach them that, as 
strangers come from all quarters of the world to view 
their historical remains, they must be regarded in 
the light of a valuable asset. So far, they are 
undoubtedly right. Let them " restore " and tear 
down the remaining gates and towers and castles in 
the provincial towns of England, and they will prove, 
in the scarcity of visitors that will follow on their 
Vandalism, how valuable, in more senses than one, are 
the ancient ways. 

Canterbury has seen a great deal of this senseless 
disregard for antiquity. Six gates, as I have said, 
were wantonly destroyed, but the passion for destruc- 
tion did not stop here. The remains of the Norman 
castle were years ago converted into a coal-hole of the 
local gasAVorks, and are still put to that degradation ; 
great stretches of the city walls, with their watch- 
towers, were taken down for corn-mills to be built 
with their materials ; and, worse than all, stupidity 
of tliis kind ran riot among the Dean and Chapter in 
the thirties. For seven hundred and fifty years had 
Lanfranc's north-western tower of the Cathedral stood, 
while the south-western had been rebuilt nearly three 
hundred years before. This dissimilarity vexed those 
assembled holders of fat prebends and decanal loaves 
and fishes, who drank port and read The Times, and 
had not a single sensible idea in their meagre brain- 
pans, beyond a notion that one thing ought to match 
with another, and that as every Jack should have his 
Jill, so also should everything else possess a pendant. 
How truly British ! 

Well, if these western towers did not match, they 
must be made to ; and so to find an excuse for pulling 
down the older one. There is always some graceless 
modern architect, with palm itching for five-per-cent. 
commissions, who would undertake or advise anything 
to procure a job, and the Dean and Chapter found 



I ISJBf ;( 



f/ 




190 THE DOVER ROAD 

such a man, who conceived Lant'ranc's Avork to have 
gone bej^ond repair. To this creature, Charles Austin, 
their own diocesan architect, who should have been 
earnest to preserve, rather than to destroy, they i^ave 
instructions for the pulling down of the Norman Avork 
and for its replacement by an exact copy of the 
Perpendicular tower. The thing was done in 1832. 
So httle beyond repair and so sturdily strong was that 
Norman tower, that it Avas necessary to bloAV it up 
Avith gunpoAA'der. A German invading Goth and 
malignant destroyer could do no more. 

The AA^ork of demolition and the building of the 
ncAV tower was done at a cost of £25,000, The architect 
pocketed £1,250 as commission, and all Avho care for 
architecture hsixe lost one of the very fcAv Norman 
Cathedral toAv^ers knoAvn in England. But then, hoAv 
exactly those toAvers match, and how satisfied must 
be all good people Avho Avould sacrifice everything for 
the sake of uniformity ! 

The main thoroughfare of Canterbury, to which the 
old West Gate giA^es access, has undergone no little 
rebuilding since the days of gables and timber fronts, 
and yet it retains in the aggregate much of that old- 
AA'orld air for Avhich we reasonably look in a Cathedral 
city. Long and narroAV the street remains ; quaint 
are many of the buildings that line it. Across it, 
under narrow bridges, floAV tAvo branches of the little 
river Stour. 

An amusing incident belonged to the " Red Lion." 

One of the most outstanding historical figures upon 
the DoAxr Road is that no less kindly than courtly 
Ambassador, the Due de NiA^ernais. That cultured 
Frenchman Avas employed by his soA^ereign, Louis the 
Fifteenth, in negotiating a Treaty of Peace Avhich should 
conclude that disastrous contest to France, the ScA'cn 
Years' War. An exchange of Ambassadors AA^as effected 
betAveen Great Britain and France ; the Duke of 
Bedford crossing the Channel to Calais in the early 
part of September, 1762, the Due de NiA'crnais voyaging 



THE DUG DE NIVERNAIS 191 

to Dover, and landing there on the morning of 
September 11. The elements had been unkind to 
him, and his passage occupied no less than five hours ; 
but Nivernais handed over to Captain Ray, the 
commander of the Princess Augusta yacht (the vessel 
in which he had voyaged and suffered the most horrible 
pangs of sea-sickness), the sum of one hundred guineas, 
to be divided among the crew. Perhaps the unbounded 
gratitude with which he found himself again upon the 
shore — even though it were not his nati^'e land — 
accounted for the magnitude of this largesse. 

The country was not eager for the peace which 
exhausted France desired, and looked upon Nivernais' 
commission rather as an attempt to curtail the glory 
which England and Englishmen were reaping on land 
and achieving by sea ; but the French Ambassador 
was received with a show of enthusiasm and the 
discharge of cannon as he landed at Dover, and a 
crowd of shouting countrymen cheered him as, bowing 
his acknowledgments of this reception, he bowled away 
in a coach and six horses, accompanied by a retinue 
of twelve persons. 

Bowled, did I say ? Nay : the motion of the ill- 
hung equipages of that day, tumbling along over the 
wretched roads of those times, resembled little the 
smooth career of bowls gliding over trimly shaven 
bowling-greens. Rather should the motion be described 
as a series of hesitating lurches and unexpected jolts ; 
and this in the comparative excellence of the highways 
in September ! 

The Ambassador had started upon his journey from 
Dover to London as soon as possible after the early 
hour of the morning when he had landed from the 
" Chops of the Channel ** ; but he arrived at Canterbury 
too late for further progress to be made that day. 
Therefore he put up in the Cathedral city, after having 
had the empty satisfaction, to a traveller in his 
exhausted condition, of being received en grande tenue 
by the garrison. 



£ 


*•. 


d. 


1 


4 





15 


10 





3 








2 


15 





10 


8 


8 


3 








2 


10 





1 


7 





2 








2 


16 





44 


10 


8 



192 THE DOVER ROAD 

The " Red Lion " inn was a,t that time the proper 
place for a personage of his. quahty to He, and so the 
Duke with his party stayed there the night. For that 
night's lodging for twelve persons, with a frugal supper 
in which oysters, fowls, boiled mutton, poached eggs, 
and fried whiting figure, the landlord of the " Red 
Lion " presented an account of over £44. This truly 
grand bill has been preserved, not, let us hope, for the 
emulation of other hotel-keepers, but by way of a 
" terrible example." Here it is : — 

Tea, coffee, and chocolate 

Supper for self and servants 

Bread and beer 

Fruit 

Wine and punch 

Wax candles and charcoal 

Broken glass and china 

Lodging 

Tea, coffee, and chocolate 

Chaise and horses for the next sta''e 



The Duke paid his account without a murmur, only 
remarking that innkeepers at this rate should soon 
grow rich ; but it was, doubtless, with great relief 
that he left Canterbury for Rochester, where he dined 
the next day for three guineas. 

News of this extraordinary bill was soon spread all 
over England. It was printed in the newspapers amid 
other marvels, disasters, and atrocities, and mine host 
of the " Red Lion," like Byron, woke up one morning 
to find himself famous. He would probably have 
preferred h s native obscurity to the fierce light 
of publicity that beat upon him ; for the country 
gentlemen, scandalized at his rapacity, boycotted his 
inn, and his brother innkeepers of Canterbury disowned 
him. The unfortunate man wrote to the St. James's 
Chronicle, endeavouring to justify himself, and com- 
plaining bitterly of the harm that had been \\Tought 
to his business by the constant billeting of soldiers 
upon him. But it was in vain to protest, and so bitter 
was the feeling against him that his trade fell off, and 
he was ruined in six months. 



M. LE DUC 193 

Meanwhile, the Due de Nivernais was negotiating 
for peace at the Court of Saint James's ; and, what 
with the difficulties of diplomacy and the rigours of 



THE DUC DE XIVERXAIS. 

the climate, he passed but a miserable time. " This 
country," he wrote, " is a cruel country for negotiation ; 
one needs to have a body and a spirit of iron," and 
how little like iron was his frame may perhaps be 
o 



19i THE DOVER ROAD 

judged from tliis portraiture of him, whieh shows a 
wistful-looking, hollow-cheeked elderly man, with nose 
and chin and eyes unnaturally prominent. The carica- 
turists took a mean advantage of his phenomenal 
leanness, and called him the " Duke of Barebones," 
and a Court witling made the cruel jest that " the 
French had sent over the preliminaries of an 
ambassador to conclude the preliminaries of a peace." 
He eventually did conclude a peace, and, returning 
to Dover, left (how thankfully !) for France on May 22, 
1763. Let us hope that, after all his trials with the 
English hotel-keepers and the English climate, he 
experienced a better passage across the Channel than 
when he first crossed it. 



XXXV 

Not all visitors to Canterbury were so evilly entreated 
as the Due de Ni\"ernais. Indeed, the city has been 
remarkable rather for its lavish and abounding 
hospitality than for any attempted over-reaching of the 
stranger. But since those strangers were chiefly 
Kings and Emperors, and great personages of that kind, 
perhaps it is little to be wondered at that the citizens, 
to say nothing of those greedy time-servers, the Priors 
and monks of Christ Church Priory and the Priory of 
Saint Augustine, rendered to those great ones of the 
earth the most abject suit and service. Almost every 
English sovereign has been here at some time or 
another, and many a foreign potentate besides. 
Henry the Second, it is true, walked into the city, 
barefoot, from Harbledown, and so to the Cathedral, 
doing abject penance for the murder of Becket, four 
years previously, and it seems to be equally true that 
as he proceeded to Becket's shrine he was scourged by 
the monks on his bare back and shoulders with knotted 
cords ; but I think they would have laid on harder and 
with a better will had the penitent not been of so 



HENRY THE EIGHTH 195 

exalted a station. In short, I have httle faith in the 
reported rigours of that punishment. A few years 
later came Henry's son, Richard Lion Heart, enlarged 
from his foreign prison. He landed at the port of 
Sandwich, and walked barefoot into Canterbury — so 
inimical was Saint Thomas to shoe-leather. Edward 
the First was pious enough to lay the Crown of Scotland 
before the Saint's shrine, and another Edward — the 
Black Prince— came here, in all humility, with the 
captive King of France. Another warrior, as brave 
and as ill-fated — ^Henry the Fifth — paid his devoirs to 
Becket as he came up the road, fresh from his glorious 
French campaigns. Another Henry, the Eighth and 
last of his name, bowed before the shrine in 1520, 
in company with the Emperor Charles the Fifth. 
On that occasion he was as fervent a worshipper as 
could well be desired, and as sincere as it is possible 
for a man to be who is at the same time a King and 
half a AVelshman. No thoughts of spoliation of the 
Church then passed his mind. Indeed, the ecclesias- 
tical dignitaries of the time made much of his visit, 
which seems to have been celebrated in a more than 
royal manner, if we may trust the chroniclers. 

From Dover the two monarchs rode into Canterbury, 
preceded by Wolsey, and followed by a long procession 
of knights and esquires, men-at-arms and archers. 
The clergy, dressed in all the splendour of which the 
Romish Church is capable, thronged the streets to 
welcome the King, and knew as little about the 
calamities presently to befall them as fat geese suspect 
the significance of Michaelmas Day. Archbishop 
AVarham welcomed the sovereigns to the Cathedral, 
and probably thought with a secret joy upon the ways 
of Providence which had removed Prince Arthur from 
this world to ])lace his younger brother, Henry, upon 
the throne. For, had Prince Arthur lived to be 
King of P^ngland, the man whom we know as Henry the 
Eighth would have been Archbishop of Canterbury. 
That was the career designed for him, and, had Prince 



196 THE DOVER ROAD 

Arthur not died, how very differently things might 
have been fashioned ! 

Archbishop Warham could, as it happened, afford 
to look upon the ways of Providence with approval, 
for these events had made him Primate, and he 
celebrated his accession to the Primacy with a banquet 
whose details seem to belong to the Arabian Nights 
rather than to sober history. Courses innumerable 
(and nasty, too, according to modern ideas) graced 
the festive board on this occasion, and the guests 
who partook of them made pigs of themselves over 
what the contemporary historian of these things calls 
the " subtylties " that bulked so largely at the feast. 
To the Duke of Buckingham, the high steward, fell 
the honour, or the duty, of serving the Archbishop 
with his own hands ; and, partly in recognition of 
his services, and partly, no doubt, in consideration 
of his being so great a gourmand, he was accorded the 
privilege of staying three days at the new Archbishop's 
nearest manor, in order that he might be bled. That 
seems to have been the necessary performance after 
partaking of too many " subtylties." 

But all this while I have been keeping His Most 
Christian Majesty, Henry the Eighth, waiting ; and, 
having done so, it is well for me I am not his con- 
temporary, for men did things so derogatory to his 
dignity only at the peril of losing their heads. 

Well, eighteen years later, the King, who had knelt 
before Becket's bones, was engaged in uprooting the 
ancient faith, and his fury was naturally felt more 
acutely here, on this the most sacred spot of English 
soil. Becket was proclaimed a traitor, and in April, 
1538, the martyr, dead three hundred and sixty-eight 
years, was summoned to appear in Court to show 
reason why his shrine should not be destroyed and 
his name blotted out from the records of the English 
Church. Thirty days were allowed " Thomas Becket " 
(thus the Royal Proclamation styled him, without 
title or handle of any sort to his name) to appear. 



THE "REGALE'' RUBY 197 

and wlien he failed to present himself, sentence was 
pronounced against him by default. The sentence 
was that his bones should be burnt and scattered to 
the winds ; a poor and inadequate kind of revenge. 
More to the point, perhaps, was the spoliation of the 
shrine of the Blessed Thomas ; for the Royal Com- 
missioners sent to strip it, loaded twenty-six carts 
with the valuables that had accumulated here during 
all those centuries, in addition to two coffers of jewels 
and gold containing the ransom of kings. 

The King kept some of the jewels for his own personal 
use. Louis the Seventh of France had, a few years 
after the murder of Becket, visited the Shrine of 
St. Thomas, and had left there a magnificent ruby. 
Not merely had he left it ; for the ruby — the " Regale 
of France," it was called — left itself, so to speak. 
In point of fact, it had been suggested to the French 
king that he should present that magnificent stone to 
the Shrine, and he was objecting to do so, when the 
great ruby leapt from the ring he was wearing and 
affixed itself to the Saint's reliquary, where it remained 
" shining so brightly that it was impossible to look 
steadily at it." 

So the visitor went away without that gorgeous 
stone, marvelling greatly, as we do, some seven 
hundred and fifty years after the event. 

The ruby, indifferently described as being " as large 
as a hen's egg,'' and " as large as a man's thumb-nail," 
was appropriated by Henry the Eighth. 

Thus did Henry repay the magnificent hospitality 
extended him years before at Canterbury. The city 
saw but little of Royalty for many years afterwards ; 
and, indeed, it was not until Charles the First came 
here to be married in the Cathedral that any great 
State function revived its past glories. Then the 
display made was worthy of local traditions. Feasting 
and general jollity prevailed while the newly- wecl 
King and Queen remained in the city. A few years 
later, when loyalt}^ was the passion of only a minority 



19S THE DOVER ROAD 

and the Kinor was warriiicr with the Parhamcnt, the 
Dover Road and Canterbury witnessed a strange 
journey. None knew of it, for the matter was secret. 
It was, in fact, tlie smugorhng out of the country of the 
little Princess Henrietta, away from the custody of the 
King's enemies. The French tutor of the Princess 
afterwards told the story of this escape. The Countess 
of Dalkeith was in charge of the little girl at Oatlands, 
and resolved at all hazards to restore her to her mother 
in France. Disguising herself, this tall and elegant 
body, one of the handsome Villiers family, acted the 
part of a poor French servant, little better than a beggar. 
She even fitted herself with a hump, and, carrying a 
bundle of linen, and with the Princess dressed in rags, 
set out by road for Dover, with the girl on her back, in 
the character of her little boy Pierre. 

On the road, we are told, the Princess indignantly 
tried to tell everyone she was not " Picric," but the 
Princess. Fortunately, no one understood, and these 
strange travellers arrived safely at Dover and crossed to 
Calais. 

The adventure seems incredible when we consider 
that the Princess Henrietta Maria was born June 16, 
1644, and that this journey to Dover is stated to have 
taken place towards the end of July, 1646. We have 
to ask ourselves, " Could a child of two years and a 
little over one month, understand and talk like that ? " 
But the source of the story has been noted ; and we are 
to recollect, as to the authentic date of the adventure, 
that Edmund Waller, the courtly poet, on New Year's 
Day, 1647, presented the Queen, then in Paris, with a 
23oem on the subject, in which the Countess of Dalkeith's 
exploit is referred to : — 

The faultless nymph, changing her faultless shape 
Becomes unhandsome, handsomely to 'scape. 

Canterbury's rejoicings were not renewed until after 
the Commonwealth had come and run its course, and 
the Stuarts were free once more to show their curious 
facility for rendering their House unjDopular. 



OLD-TIME TRAVELLERS 199 

And after the romantic times of that unfortunate 
family come the stohd annals of Dutch William, 
Anne, and the unimaginative Georges — a line of 
sovereigns for whom enthusiasm Avas impossible. 
Mean in their vices and contemptible in their virtues, 
they lived their lives and reigned over England, and 
posted along the Dover Road on their way to or from 
beloved Hanover ; and no man's heart beat the faster 
for their coming, and none sorrowed overmuch for 
their going. All the Georges, and William the Fourth, 
too, were here, I believe, and in their train came the 
lean Keilmanseggs, the fleshly Schwellenbergs, and a 
variety of greasy Germans, fresh from the terrible 
voyage over sea ; but no one cares in the least either 
where they went or whither they did not go. 

But they all travelled with what we must now 
consider a snail's pace. The wealthiest, the most 
powerful, could go no faster than horses managed to 
drag them. When Sir Robert Peel was summoned in 
haste from Rome by William the Fourth to form a 
Ministry in 1834, he travelled full speed to London, and 
the journey took him just within a fortnight. He noted 
in his journal that he accomplished it in exactly the 
same time as the Emperor Hadrian had done seventeen 
hundred years before him. The means of travel at the 
disposal of both statesmen were identical — post 
horses. 

Another Royal visitor (of a much later date indeed) 
discovered the " chops of the Channel " to be no 
respectors of personages. In fact. His Serene Highness 
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was come 
across the water to wed his Cousin, Queen Victoria of 
Great Britain and Ireland (" Empress of India " was 
yet in the loom of the future), found his serenity as 
much disturbed by the roughness of his passage as 
falls to the lot of most bad sailors, of whatever social 
stratum. He was, in short, very ill, and unable to 
proceed any farther that day. On the morrow, Friday, 
February 7, 1840, he resumed his journey to London, 



200 THE DOVER ROAD 

by road, of course, for the railways that serve Dover 
(and serve it badly, too !) had not as yet been built. 

Starting about midday, the father of our future 
kings reached Canterbury at two o'clock. The 
inevitable Address was, it is surely scarcely necessary 
to add, immediately forthcoming, to which the Prince 
as inevitably " replied graciously " ; afterwards 
attending service in the Cathedral, where, as he could 
have understood but little of the service, he must have 
been supremely bored. The Cathedral was thronged 
with crowds who came not so much in order to pray 
as to peep at the Princeling whom the young Queen 
had delighted to honour. 

The Prince slept at Canterbury that night, and left, 
with his suite, en route for Chatham at half-past nine 
the next morning, pursued by a body of clergymen 
with an Address. Alarmed at this appalling eagerness 
on the part of servile Britons to read lengthy orations 
of which he understood not a word, the Prince gave 
directions for the cavalcade to drive faster, and so they 
swept on through Chatham and Rochester, without 
stopping to hear what the Mayors and Corporations 
of those places had to say. Those deadl}^ Addresses 
were, in fact, " taken as read," and the Mayors, 
Aldermen and others returned home with their 
ridiculous parchments, wiser, and, it is to be feared, not 
only sadder, but less loyal men. 

At Dartford, the bridegroom-elect was met by one of 
the Queen's carriages, and he thereupon changed from 
his travelling chariot to enter London in some degree of 
State. At New Cross an escort of the 14th Dragoons 
was waiting, and, instead of proceeding along the 
classic Old Kent Road, and so to the traditional 
entrance to London by London Bridge, he went to 
town by way of romantic Peckham and idyllic 
Camberwell, ending his journey at that dream of 
architectural beauty, Buckingham Palace. What 
followed : How the Times waxed violent and denuncia- 
tory of Lord Melbourne and the frivolous entourage 



CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL 201 

with wliicli he had surrounded the Queen ; liow that 
paper preached homihes, and how all the others, nearly 
without exception, gushed fulsome nonsense, it is not 
the business of the present historian to set forth. 
All he has to do is to remark that with this event closes 
the history of Royal processions along the Dover Road. 
The hilly road to Dover is not remarkable for sporting 
events, but two may here be noted. On April 1st, 1903, 
Mr. Walter de Creux-Hutchinson walked from Dover to 
London Bridge in 14 hrs., 19 mins., 40 sees. ; and on 
September 18th, 1909, A. G. Norman cycled from 
London to Dover and back in 8 hrs., 8 mins. 



XXXVI 

The chief point of interest in Canterbury is, of course, 
the Cathedral, the bourne to which countless pilgrims 
came from all parts of the civilized world to gain the 
goodwill and intercedence of that thrice sacred and 
potent Saint Thomas whose peculiar sanctity over- 
topped by far that of any other English martyr, and 
whose shrine possessed scarce less efficacy than that of 
the most renowned Continental resorts of the pious. 

But long before Becket's day the Metropolitan 
Cathedral of Canterbury had arisen. The establishment 
of the See dates from the time when Augustine landed 
at Ebbsfleet, in the Isle of Thanet, in a.d. 596, and, 
marching at the head of his forty Benedictine monks, 
held a conference with Ethelbert, King of Kent, by 
whose favour he was allowed to preach Christianity to 
the Saxons. Thus was the Cross of Christ re-introduced 
to these islands where it had flourished centuries before 
among the Romans and the Romanized British. 

Saint Augustine, however, does not deserve quite 
all the honour that has been paid him for his work. 
He undertook his mission against his will and only 
by the peremptory orders of Pope Gregory the First ; 



202 THE DOVER ROAD 

orders which he feared to disobey even more than 
he had dreaded coming over the sea from smmy Italy 
to convert the pagan Saxons. As first Archbishop 
of Canterbury he died in a.d. 605 ; and when he 
died he left the first Cathedral already built on the 
site of an ancient Romano-British Church where the 
present great Minster stands. But that was not by 
any means the first Christian Church in England. 
To the little village church of Saint Martin belongs 
that honour, and to this day the hoary walls of that 
building show the traveller unmistakable Roman tiles 
which, having been originally built into a pagan 
temple, remain to prove the humble beginnings of the 
Word that has spread throughout the world. 

Saint Augustine's Cathedral was small, but, patched 
and tinkered by generation after generation, it lasted 
nearly five hundred years ; until, in fact, the troubles 
of the Conquest practically ruined it. Lanfranc, the 
first Norman Archbishop, rebuilt the Cathedral Church, 
and now one rebuilding speedily followed another, each 
one growing more elaborate than before. Lanfranc's 
Avork was superseded in 1130 by a magnificent building 
approaching the present bulk of the Cathedral. Henry 
the First was present at its consecration, with David, 
King of Scotland ; and all the ecclesiastical dignitaries 
of the realm, together with a great concourse of nobles, 
assisted. Conrad and Ernulf, Priors of Christ Church, 
were the architects of the work, and so grand was it, and 
so great was the occasion, that an old chronicler 
described the ceremony of consecration as " the most 
famous that had ever been heard of on earth since 
that of the temple of Solomon." 

But, four years later, the " glorious choir of Conrad " 
was burned down, and all the pious fervour and 
exaltation that had raised these sculptured stones 
and tall towers was wasted. People and clergy alike 
" were astonished that the Almighty should suffer 
such things, and, maddened with grief and perplexity, 
they tore their hair and beat the walls and pavement 



THE CHOIR 203 

of the church with their heads and hands, blaspheminsf 
the Lord and His saints, the patrons of the church." 

This fury of racre and perplexity overpast, however, 
the strenuous folk of those times began the work of 
rebuildino- the church almost before the blackened 
stones and charred timbers of the ruined building 
were cold. They employed a French architect, 
William of Sens, and for four years he laboured in 
designing and superintending the construction of 
choir, retro-choir, and the easternmost chapels, 
incorporating with his work the old Norman towers 
and chapels which had, in part, survived the great fire. 
William of Sens did not live to see his task completed ; 
for, one day, as he was on the lofty scaffolding, 
directing the work of turning the choir vault, he 
fell and was disabled for life. His successor, who 
brought the rebuilding to a close, was " William the 
Englishman," identified by some with that William de 
Hoo, the architect-Bishop of Rochester. 

The present choir, then, shows the work of these 
two Williams ; nearly all, in fact, to the eastward of 
the crossing, from choir-screen to Becket's Crown, is 
their handiwork. Meanwhile, Lanfranc's heavy Norman 
nave was left uninjured by fire and untouched by 
those mighty builders, and it was not until the fourteenth 
century that it was reconstructed in the Perpendicular 
style by Prior Chillenden. " It had grown ruinous," 
so say the records, but the greater probability is that it 
Avas not so crazy but that effectual renovation without 
rebuilding would have been possible. But the spirit 
of the age was altogether opposed to the ponderous 
character of Norman architecture. Men began to build 
so lightly and loftily that walls soon assumed the 
appearance of mere framings to the huge windows that 
characterize this ultimate phase of Gothic architecture. 

The constructional aspect was gone altogether, and 
most of the artistic interest too. Vulgar ostentation 
of skill — engineering knowledge that led architects to 
pile up slender alleys of stone to the last point of 



204 THE DOVER ROAD 

endurance — was the note of the age. Unfortunately, 
the age which witnessed the growth and development 
of the Perpendicular stjde was one of the greatest 
wealth and activity. A ceaseless and untiring energy 
pervaded the land, tearing down the Norman, the 
Early English, and the Decorated churches, and 
rearing upon their sites buildings immeasurably 
larger, loftier, and lighter, but less individual and 
less interesting in every way than the work of the 
builders who had gone before. 

Frankly, then, the great soaring nave of Canterbury, 
with its long alleys of clustered pillars, its great 
windows and broad, unornamented wall-spaces, is 
disappointing. No details tempt the amateur of 
architecture to linger, and the sole ornamentation 
which the builder has allowed himself in this long- 
drawn-out vista is seen on the sparely sculptured 
bosses of the groining. The times which witnessed 
the piling up of this great nave were days when this 
church was rich beyond compare with the offerings of 
pilgrims ; and, given riches, ostentation is sure to 
follow, but art is not to be bought at a price. 

A long array of altar-tombs of kings, princes, 
warriors, and archbishops adds to the historical 
interest of Canterbury Cathedral. Easily first, both 
for historic and artistic value, are the tomb and 
effigy of Edward the Black Prince, who, dying of a 
wasting disease in 1376, was entombed in the Cathedral 
as near as might be to the Martyr's shrine. There is 
not a statue in all England to rival the beautifully- 
wrought bronze effigy of the Black Prince which lies on 
an altar-tomb decorated with the Prince of Wales's 
feathers he was the first to assume, surrounded by 
the Ich Dien that so admirably expresses the chivalry 
of his character. 

The shields bearing his arms and badge are inter- 
esting. The arms, those with the leopards (or lions) 
of England, quartered with the lilies of France, are 
ensigned with the mark of cadencj^ indicating the 



" ICH DIENE 



205 



heir, or eldest son, and bear above them the word 
" Houmout." This is a Flemish word meaning 
" Chivalry," literally " high mood." The Dutch 
language has '' hoog moed," Avith the same sense. 



^^1^ 





THE BLACK PRINCE'S ARMS AND BADGE. 



The shield with the badge of three ostrich feathers 
standing upright on their quills, bears the words 
'' Ich diene." In his will the Prince especially directed 
that these should appear. These " Prince of Wales " 
feathers, said to derive from the ostrich plumes of John, 
King of Bohemia, slain in the Battle of Crecy, give 
antiquaries a good deal to consider, for it is by no means 
certain that this is all the stor}^ The Prince's mother, 
Queen Philippa, used the badge ; which, furthermore, 
seems to have been not unknown as a royal device. 
'' Ich Dien " = " I serve," is an expression of the heir's 
loyalty and submission to the sovereign ; and is perhaps 
a reading of Galatians IV, i, " The heir, as long as he is a 
child, differcth nothing from a servant, though he be 



206 THE DOVER ROAD 

lord of all." The modern drawin<^r of the Prince of 
^Vales' feathers originated in Tudor times. 

Here, then, he hes, in full armour, as he had enjoined 
in his will, the likeness of the spurs he won at Creyy on 
his heels, his head resting on his helmet, and his hands 
joined in prayer. The face and head are clearly an 
excellent portraiture of him, so masterly is the work, 
and so like the features to those of his father in 
Westminster Abbey and his grandfather at Gloucester ! 
Traces remain of the gilding with which the effigy was 
covered ; the shields of arms and the curious Norman- 
French inscription are iminjured, and every little detail 
of his magnificent memorial is as perfect now as when 
it was finished five hundred years ago. The wooden 
canopy suspended over his tomb has survived the march 
of time and the fury of revolution ; his wooden shield ; 
his blazoned tabard, colourless now and in the semblance 
of a dirty rag, but once a truly royal adornment of 
velvet, glowing with the red and blue and golden 
quarter] ngs of England and France, — all these things 
are left to speak of the grief with which the nation saw 
its most perfect gentle knight borne to his grave. His 
gauntlets, too, and his tilting helmet are here, and 
only one thing is missing from its place. The sword 
wielded at Crecy and Poictiers, and at many another 
fight, has vanished from its scabbard. If, as tradition 
says, Cromwell stole that weapon, how much more 
impressive it is to think of the hero-worship thus felt 
by one great captain for another. 

The Black Prince was the darling of England. He 
had won a glory for this country the like of which 
had never before been known, and he was the flower 
of chivalry. But do those who gather round his 
tomb, and feel themselves the greater for being 
countrymen of his, ever think how little his chivalry 
would have spared them ? His huml)le and dutiful 
bearing towards his father, and even to his captive, 
the King of France, shows that his reverence Avas 
for rank and titles ; the cruelty he exhibited when, 



THOMAS A BECKET 207 

the city of Limoges liaviiio" revolted, he ordered a 
general massacre of the inhabitants and was carried 
through the streets in a litter, to see his bidding done, 
dims the glory of his arms. Men, women, and children 
were alike butchered in those streets, and when, 
crying for mercy, they were hewed in pieces before 
his eyes, their fate left him unmoved. It was only 
when he saw three French knights fighting valiantly in 
the market-place against overwhelming odds, that the 
chivalry of the Black Prince was touched. That 
hundreds or thousands of the citizens should be slain 
was nothing to him, for theij Avere nothing, but to see 
gentlemen of rank and birth fighting a hopeless fight 
was too much. He ordered the massacre to be stayed. 



xxxvn 

When in the last days of 1170 Becket was murdered in 
his own Cathedral, no one could have foreseen how 
fertilizing would be the blood of the martyr to religious 
faith ; and not only to faith but also to English thought, 
trades, and professions. No sinner could be considered 
safe for Paradise unless he had made pilgrimage to 
Canterbury, and this pilgrimage became one of the 
chief features of English life during four hundred years. 
We owe directly to it the inspiration which has given 
Chaucer, our earliest j^oet, an immortal fame ; from it 
comes the verb " to canter " — originally describing the 
ambling pace at which the pilgrims urged their horses 
on this road, and now common in modern English 
speech ; while the great bulk of the Cathedral would 
never have loomed so largely across the Stour meads 
to-day had it not been for the fervent ])iety that, 
centuries ago, heaped gold and jewels here for the 
expiation of sins. Pilgrimage was a blessed thing 
indeed for the keepers of inns and for a multitude of 
other trades ; and mendicants liad but to take stall' 



208 THE DOVER ROAD 

and scrip, and tramp in guise of palmers through the 
country to be hberally helped on their way. The 
Palmer was, indeed, the ancestor of the modern tramp. 
He had but to go unwashed, unshaven, and unshorn, 
and he could live his life without toil or work of any 
kind. If he were taxed Avith filthy habits, he could 
reply that a vow to remain unwashed until he had 
reached this shrine or another forbade him to remove 
the grime that covered him as a garment ; and his 
claim to be dirty would be allowed. Eventually the 
number of these palmers at home and from over sea 
became a nuisance and a danger to Church and State, 
and no less objectionable were the hermits who squatted 
down at every likely corner of the roads and solicited 
alms. Human nature in the fourteenth century was 
not appreciably different from that of the present era, 
when many would rather beg a livelihood than earn it ; 
and not only the laziness and the number of these 
palmers and hermits, but also their shocking im- 
morality, became a scandal, until many laws and 
Archiepiscopal edicts were levelled against them. 
Pilgrimage, Saint Thomas, and religion itself became 
discredited by these creatures, and even as early as the 
year 1370, the fame of Becket was resented by some, 
and the efficacy of pilgrimages doubted. That year 
was the fourth "jubilee of Saint Thomas, when pilgrims 
Avere crowding in many hundreds of thousands to 
Canterbury from all parts of the civilized world to 
receive the free indulgences, the free quarters, and the 
free food and drink, alike for themselves and their 
horses, that were accorded to all who came to the 
jubilee festival that was held, once in every fifty years, 
for a fortnight. As these multitudes of pilgrims were 
proceeding along the road to Canterbury during the 
Festival fortnight of 1370, Simon of Sudbury, the then 
Archbishop, overtook them. This Prelate had a hatred 
for superstition somewhat in advance of his time. 
He did not believe at all in pilgrimages and but little in 
Thomas a Becket, and he told the crowds he passed 



SIMON OF SUDBURY 209 

on the road that the plenary indulgence which they 
were pressing forward to gain would be of no avail to 
purge their sins. The people who heard this heretical 
and previously unheard-of doctrine issuing from the 
mouth of an Archbishop, turned upon him in fear and 
rage, and cursed him as he w^nt. A Kentish squire 
among the throng rode up and indignantly said, 
" My Lord Bishop, for this act of yours, stirring the 
people to sedition against St. Thomas, I stake the 
salvation of my soul that you will close your life by a 
most terrible death." To this all the people replied 
with a fervent Amen ! 

Saint Thomas was indeed avenged upon the Arch- 
bishop. Eleven years later, when Wat Tyler's rebels 
pillaged London, and forced themselves into the 
Tower, they found Simon of Sudbury there, among 
others. Dragging him out, they beheaded him with 
revolting barbarity, and here he lies in the Choir, 
where his headless body was seen, years ago, the place 
of the missing head supplied with a leaden ball. 

The spirit of irreverence grew fast. In 1512 
Erasmus made, ^\dth Dean Colet, a pilgrimage to 
Canterbury, not so much from piety as from curiosity. 
Descending the hill of Harbledown, they came into 
the city, wondering at the majesty of the Cathedral 
tower and at the booming of the bells resounding 
through the surrounding country. They entered the 
south porch, discussing the stone statues of Becket's 
murderers, then to be seen there ; they entered the 
great naA^e, where Erasmus noted satirically the 
apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus chained to a pillar ; 
and, armed with a letter of introduction from Arch- 
bishop Warham, they were shown many things not 
usually exhibited to the crowd. Passing through the 
iron gates which then as now divided the nave from 
the more holy portion of the building, they were 
taken to the Chapel of the Martyrdom, where they 
kissed the sacred rust that remained on the broken 
point of Brito's sword. From here they descended 



2i0 THE DOVER ROAD 

into the Crypt, which had its own priests in charge 
of the martyr's perforated skull, which was shown, 
with four of his bones, on a kind of altar. The fore- 
head was left bare to be kissed, while the rest was 
covered with silver. Here hung in the dark the 
hair-shirts, the girdles and bandages, and the cat-o'- 
nine-tails or more with which Becket had subdued 
the flesh ; striking horror with their very appearance, 
reproaching the pilgrims for their luxuries and self- 
indulgence, and perhaps, as Erasmus remarks, even 
reproaching the monks. From the Crypt they 
returned to the Choir, where the vast stores of rehcs 
were unlocked for their admiration and worship. 

To read of the rehcs shown by the monks of 
Canterbury Cathedral fiUs one with amazement, both 
at the impertinence of those disgusting humbugs, 
and at the illimitable credulity that accepted the 
exhibition as genuine. Besides the pre-eminently 
holy (and really genuine) relics of the Blessed Thomas 
were heaps of bones, hair, teeth, and dust of a vast 
concourse of miscellaneous saints, with portions of 
their attire and articles connected with their domestic 
history. How genuine they were likely to be may 
be judged from a short list of the most venerated 
among them. The bed of the Virgin, with the wool 
she wove, and a garment of her making, occupied 
the foremost place, and the rock on which the Cross 
of Christ stood ; His sepulchre ; the manger ; the 
table used at the Last Supper ; the column to which 
He was bound when He was flagellated by the cursed 
Jews ; and the rock whereon He had stood on 
ascending into Heaven, were prime favourites. More 
wonderful still, the monks possessed Aaron's Rod ; 
a portion of the oak on which Abraham mounted 
that he might see the Lord ; and — more stupendously 
blasphemous than anything else — a specimen of the 
clay with which God moulded Adam ! 

Colet was wearied with all this, and when an arm 
was brought forward to be kissed which had still the 



THE NEW PILGRIMS 211 

bloody flesh of the martyr chnging to it, he drew 
back in disgust. The priest then shut up, locked, 
and double-locked his treasures, and showed them 
the sumptuous articles, the great w^ealth of gold and 
silver ornaments, kept under the altar. Erasmus 
thought that in the presence of this vast assemblage 
of precious things even Midas and Croesus would 
be only beggars, and he sighed that he had nothing 
like them at home, devoutly praying the Saint for 
pardon of his impious thought before he moved a 
step from the Cathedral. However, they had not 
yet seen all. They w^re led into the Sacristy, and 
" Good God ! " exclaims Erasmus, " what a display 
was there of silken ^ estments, what an array of 
golden candlesticks ! " Saint Thomas's pastoral staff 
was there, a quite plain stick of pear-wood, with 
a crook of black horn, covered with silver plate, 
and no longer than a walking-stick. Here, too, was 
a coarse silken pall, quite unadorned, and a sudary, 
dirty from wear, and retaining manifest stains of 
blood. These things, relics of a more simple age, 
they ^villingly kissed, and were then conducted to 
the Corona, where they saw an effigy of Saint Thomas, 
" that excellent man," gilt and adorned with many 
jewels. But here Colet's anger broke forth, and he 
addressed the priest in this wise. " Good father, 
is it true what I hear, that Saint Thomas while alive 
was exceedingly kind to the poor ? " " Most true," 
said he, and he then began to relate many of his 
acts of benevolence towards the destitute. "I do 
not imagine," said Colet, " that such disposition of 
his is changed, but perhaps increased." The priest 
assented. " Then," rejoined the Dean, " since that 
holy man was so liberal towards the poor when he 
was poor himself and required the aid of all his money 
for his bodily necessities, do you not think that now, 
when he is very wealthy, nor lacks anything, he would 
take it very contentedly if any poor woman having 
starving children at home should (first praying for 



212 THE DOVER ROAD 

pardon) take from these so great riches some small 
portion for the relief of her family ? " 

The priest pouted, knitted his brows, and looked 
upon the two friends with Gorgoniai eyes, and he 
would probably have turned them out of the building 
had it not been for the Archbishop's letter of intro- 
duction which they carried with them. Erasmus was 
alarmed at his friend's free speech. He was pacifying 
the priest when the Prior approached and conducted 
them to the Holy of holies, Becket's Shrine. A wooden 
canopy was raised, and the golden case enclosing the 
martyr's remains disclosed. The least valuable part 
of it was of gold : every part glistened, shone, and 
sparkled with rare and immense jewels, some of them 
exceeding the size of a goose's egg. Monks stood 
round, and they all fell down and worshipped, after 
which they returned to the Crypt, to see the place 
where the Virgin Mother had her abode, a somewhat 
dark one, hedged in by more than one iron screen. 
" What was she afraid of, then ? " asks his interlocutor, 
and he replies, " Of nothing, I imagine, except thieves," 
for the riches with which she was surrounded Avere a 
more than royal spectacle. Again they were conducted 
to the Sacristy ; a box covered with l3lack leather was 
brought out, and again all fell doAvn and worshipped. 
Some torn fragments of linen were produced ; most of 
them retaining marks of dirt. With these the holy man 
used to wipe the perspiration from his face and neck, 
the runnings from his nose, or such other superfluities 
from which the human frame is not free. The Prior 
graciously offered to present Colet with one of these 
dirty rags, and, indeed, to the devout such a gift would 
have been of a quite inestimable value. But Colet, 
handling the rags delicately as though they might 
possibly infect him, replaced them in the box with a 
contemptuous whistle. The Prior was a man of polite- 
ness and good breeding. He appeared not to notice 
this rude, not to say heretical, rejection of his gift, and, 
offering them a cup of wine, courteously dismissed them. 



THE NEW PILGRIMS 213 



XXXVIII 

Soon after this came the downfall. With the struggles 
of the Reformation went the relics, the gold and 
jewels, and — worse than all — the decorations and 
painted windows of the Cathedral. With many abuses 
and with the disgusting humbug of the old order of 
things went also, it is sad to think, much of the living 
reality of religion : and Canterbury Cathedral is to-day 
an historical museum to the crowd of tourists, and an 
architectural model for students of that first of all the 
arts. Curiosity, and little else, draws the crowd. 
Byron has caught the spirit of the times happily enough 
(although " beadle " and " cathedral " are not among 
the elegancies of rhyme) when he says of Don Juan and 
his companion : — 

They saw at Canterbury the Cathedral, 

Black Edward's helm, and Becket's bloody stone, 

Were pointed out as usual by the beadle, 
In the same quiet uninterested tone : — 

There's glory for you, gentle reader 1 All 
Ends in a rusty casque and dubious bone. 

And how very dubious are the bones that are said 
to be those of Becket is a question that may not be 
enlarged upon here. 

For the rest, a holy calm reigns unbroken in the 
Cathedral Close. Hemmed in and surrounded * by 
massive walls, modernity has no place here, and if 
the interior of the building is somewhat disappointing, 
the exterior and its surroundings, especially the 
north-east aspect, viewed from the Green Court, must 
be seen to be appreciated. To be sure, this part of 
the building is Norman and Early English, and no 
other periods produced such wildly irregular masses. 
Added to the original irregularity of outline are the 
puzzling ruins — ivied wall and broken window — 

* Mr. Gladstone has said, most notoriously, that to be " hemmed in " is 
not to be " surrounded." But that was part of the political game of bluff, 
and may not be regarded as a contribution to philology. 



214 THE DOVER ROAD 

dating from the time when Henry the Eighth's 
Commissioners destroyed the monastery. Queer 
passages, dark and tortuous, giving suddenly upon 
little cloisters and grassy quadrangles, are to be 
found everywhere ; conspicuous among them the 
" Dark Entry," immortalized by Tom Ingoldsby in 
his Legend of Nell Cook. 

By walking outside Canterbury, a mile distant to 
Saint Thomas's Hill, on the Whitstable Road, you 
shall see how thoroughly the Cathedral dominates 
the city ; and arrive, by an exploration of the narrow 
lanes and the meads below, at an understanding of 
how this great Minster was Canterbury, and how 
subservient to it was all else. Affairs are now very 
different. A vigorous and pulsing life belongs to 
the streets and lanes, while it is the Church that 
has passed away from the intimate life of the people, 
and sunk back into retirement. Canterbury is far 
larger than ever before, and its modern pavements, 
that ring with soldiers' tread, or with the speedy walk 
of busy citizens, are raised many feet above the street 
level of old Durovernum. Where the old Roman 
Watling Street left the city by what is now called the 
Riding Gate, the original paving of that military way 
was discovered some few years ago at a depth of 
fourteen feet below the level of the present road. 
Everywhere, when foundations for new houses have 
been dug, are discovered Roman pavements and the 
walls of forgotten buildings, and thus does Canterbury 
progress through the ages, rearing itself upon itself 
until its beginnings are hidden deep below the light of 
day. Strangely do modern ways here jostle with the 
old. A newly fronted house, proclaiming nothing of its 
antiquity, will yet often be found to contain much of 
interest. The ugly fronted Guildhall is an instance. 
Without, it is of the plainest and most uninteresting 
type ; within, it has panelling and portraits and old 
arms to show the curious. At its door, too, stands all 
day and every day, or walks about the streets, a 



THE CITY SERGEANT 



215 



gorgeous creature clad in black knee-breeches and silk 
stockings ; with buckled shoes and cocked-hat ; 
with coat and waist- 
coat of a courtly type, 
trimmed and faced 
with gold lace. It is 
nothing less than 
startling to see such 
an uniform in daily 
use ; and, still more 
amazing is it, when 
you ask the wearer 
of it who he is, to 
hear him reply, with 
a grave politeness, 
that he is the City 
Sergeant. Old insti- 
tutions live long here, 
and old people, too. 
At Canterbury died, 
in 1891, aged ninety- 
one, William Clements, 
one of the last, if not 
the last, of the old 
stage - coach drivers, 
who had driven the 
" Tally-ho " coach 
between this and Lon- 
don long before the 
railway was thought 
of; and in July, 1901, 
aged 89, died Stephen 
Philpott, who was 
coachman of the 
Dover Mail, until the 
railway ran him off. 
He was transferred to a route between London and Heme 
Bay, and afterwards became proprietor of the " Royal 
Oak," Dover, since demolished for street improvements. 




A (i OK GEO US CIIEATURE. 



216 



THE DOVER ROAD 



XXXIX 



The Dover Road, after leaving Canterbury, loses 
very much of that religious character, picturesquely 
varied with robbery and murder, which is its chiefest 
feature between Southwark and the Shrine of Saint 
Thomas ; for, although many foreign pilgrims landed 
at Dover to proceed to the place where the martyr 
lay, encased in gold and jewels, their number was 
nothing to be compared with 
that of the crowds who came 
into Canterbury from London, 
or along the Pilgrims' Road 
from the West Country; and 
consequently the wayside shrines 
and oratories were fewer. The 
greater part of the sixteen miles 
between Canterbury and Dover 
is bare and exposed downs, 
with here and there a little 
village nestling, sheltered from 
the bleak winds, in deep valleys ; 
but the first two miles, between 
the city and the coast, are 
now becoming gay with the 
geranium-beds, the lawns and gardens of Canterbury 
villadom. 

At the first milestone is Gutteridge Gate, where 
the old toll-house remains beside the " Gate " inn, 
and where bacchanalian countrymen gather on Sunday 
evenings in summer, drinking pots of ale as the sun 
goes down, and recaUing to the artistic passer-by 
Teniers' pictures of boors, as they shout and bang the 
wooden tables and benches with their pewter pots. 
Looking back at such a time down the long, straight 
road ascending from Canterbury, there come many 




WILLIAM CLEMENTS 



GUTTERIDGE GATE 217 

jingling sons of Mars, each man with his adoring young 
woman, and sometimes one on either arm, for there is 
great competition for these gallant Hussars, Lancers, 
and Dragoons among the Canterbury fair ones ; and 
" unappropriated blessings " of a rank in life that does 
not permit of " walking out " with mere troopers sit at 
windows commanding the road, sighing for that the 
conventions of the age do not permit them to " stoop 
to conquer " the conquerors of their fluttering hearts. 
" I could worship that man," says the Fairy Queen in 
lolanthe, gazing admiringly upon " Private Willis of the 
Grenadier Guards " ; and how much more worshipful 
than a foot-soldier are the " cavalry chaps " of the 
Canterbury depot ! 

It was a hundred yards or so along the road from 
Gutteridge Gate that two Dragoons figured in a 
highway robbery upon His Majesty's Mails in 1789. 
The bells were chiming three o'clock in the morning 
of July 31 in that year when Daniel Goldup, the 
mounted postman, came up the hill from Bridge with 
the French mails slung across his horse's back. As he 
eased his jDace in ascending the hill, three men called 
upon him to stop. One of them he recognized as a 
villager from Elham named Hills, and the two others he 
perceived to be Dragoons disguised in smock-frocks. 
Telling Hills he had no letters for him, Goldup proceeded 
on his way. Hills fired but missed, and the three then 
ran after him ; one laying hold of the horse's bridle 
while the other two seized the mail-bags and rifled them. 
They detained him an hour while they examined the 
letters, and then, tying up the mail-bags again, let 
him go. 

The village of Bridge, down below, takes its name 
from the small bridge that carrie, the road over the 
Lesser Stour. It is a pretty and peaceful place 
to-day, ^\'ith quaint boarded houses ; a Norman and 
Early English church, containing some curious and 
grotesque carvings of Adam and Eve ; and encircled 
by woods, the remote descendants of the almost 



218 



THE DOVER ROAD 



impenetrable forests that once surrounded Canterbury, 
leaving only Barham Downs and their neighbouring 
chalk hills bare and islanded amid a sea of greenery. 




Barham Downs commence immediately beyond 
Bridge. They have been the scene of many remarkable 
gatherings, from the time of Julius Caesar to the waning 
years of the last century, when the Downs were alive 
with soldiers camping here in readiness for that 
inglorious Armada that never left port — Napoleon's 
flotilla of Boulogne. 

To go back to the year 55 B.C., when Caesar first 
landed at Deal, may seem to the readers of evening 



CESAR'S INVASION 219 

newspapers something of an effort in retrogression — 
and so indeed, it is — but when you once succeed in 
getting there, the history and details of that time 
are a great deal more interesting than perhaps the 
reader of special editions, hot and hot, would imagine. 
We can succeed in picturing the detailed events of 
that remote time, because Caesar, w^ho was as mighty 
with the pen as with the sword, has left full and 
singularly lucid accounts of his wars here and on the 
Continent — lucid, that is to say, when one penetrates 
the veil of Latin behind which his exploits and the 
doings of his legionaries are hid ; but darkly understood 
by the stumbling schoolboy, to whom the Bello Gallico 
is as full of linguistic ambushes as the Kentish valleys 
were of lurking Britons in Caesar's time. 

It was in the year 55 B.C. that Ca?sar, having 
overrun, if not having entirely conquered, Gaul, came 
to its northern coast and gazed eagerly across that 
unknown sea, beyond which had come strange warriors, 
extraordinarily strong and equally fearless, to aid 
those troublesome Gaulish fightirg-men who had 
already given him four years of campaigning, and were 
still to prove themselves unsubdued. He had already 
felt the prowess of these " Britons," as they were called, 
and fighting having slackened somewhat, he conceived 
the idea of voyaging across the Channel in quest of 
glory and adventure in the dim and semi-fabled land of 
these mysterious strangers. " Caesar," he says, speaking 
of himself always in the third person, " determined to 
proceed into Britain because he understood that in 
almost all the Gallic wars succour had been supplied 
thence to our enemies." So much for his written 
reasons, but other things must have weighed with him. 
The lust of conquest would alone have impelled him 
forward beyond this very outer edge of the known 
world, even had he not desired to crush these allies 
of Gaul ; but when wild tales reached him of the 
richness of the land that lay beyond this strait, whose 
cliffs he could dimly see, the impulse to invade it was 



220 THE DOVER ROAD 

irresistible. But Caesar was a cautious general, 
and rarely moved without having reconnoitred, and 
so he sent over a certain Volusenus to spy out that 
wonderful land whence came tin and skins, oysters, 
pearls, hunting dogs, gold, slaves, and terrible warriors. 
Volusenus sailed across the straits, and returned with 
quite as much information as could have been expected 
from one who had never left his ship. That sarcasm 
is Caesar's own, and no doubt he was in a peculiarly 
savage and sarcastic humour at the time, for although 
this Britain was so frequented by merchants, yet he 
could not find any one who would acknowledge having 
been there ; and so his information as to the population, 
the shores and harbours of the country, remained 
vague and uncertain. And to add to the disappoint- 
ments he had experienced from those crafty traders 
who wished to keep all knowledge of the island to 
themselves, this over-cautious Volusenus returned 
after four days with just such a hazy and indefinite 
story as he had been told before ; the hearsay evidence 
of one who was too timorous to land ! 

But Caesar's desire to see Britain was only whetted 
by the deceits which those artful traders had practised 
upon him, and by the vague reports of his envoy. 
He lay at Portus Itius, identified either as Boulogne 
or some place in the immediate vicinity, and, collecting 
a flotilla of over eighty vessels, with an additional 
eighteen for his cavalry, he sailed from under the shelter 
of Grey Nose Point at midnight, August 24, B.C. 55. 
The following morning about six o'clock, this armada 
arrived under Dover cliffs. The cavalry, however, 
which had sailed from a different harbour, had been 
driven back by adverse winds, and did not arrive until 
four days later. His force, then, consisted of two 
legions of foot soldiers, equal to about 10,000 men. 
No sooner had the transports anchored in Dover 
harbour than the cliff -tops became alive with Britons, 
armed, and determined to resist a landing. Seeing this, 
Caesar decided to select some less dangerous landing- 



CESAR'S FORCES 221 

place, and, weighing anchor, sailed seven miles onward 
to Deal. The British, however, were ready for him 
when he reached the site of that town, and it was only 
after a stubborn fight on the beach, and half in the 
waves, that the Roman legionaries effected a landing. 
The decks of Caesar's triremes were crowded with men 
who slung stones, threw javelins, and worked great 
catapults against the Britons, in order to cover the 
advance of the heavily armoured soldiers as they 
waded through the shallow water. When once these 
men, led by the intrepid standard-bearer of Caesar's 
favourite Tenth Legion, had gained the beach, their 
discipline, their helmets, armour, shields, and short 
swords speedily prevailed against the ill-protected and 
undisciplined hordes of the brave islanders. The day 
was won, and the Romans, having put the Britons to 
flight, encamped by the shore. Three weeks of 
battles, ambushes, skirmishes, and negotiations for 
peace followed this landing, and then Caesar left Britain. 
The equinox was at hand, and storms raged. Half his 
fleet was destroyed by a tempest, and he was anxious 
to be away. So, accepting any terms that he might 
with honour, he patched up his vessels and sailed for 
Gaul ; and thus ended the first attempt of the Romans 
to conquer Britain. 

The following year Caesar determined to invade the 
island on a larger scale. His first expedition had been 
obliged to remain ingloriously within sight and sound 
of the waves ; but this time the general resolved to 
push into the heart of the country. Sailing from his 
former harbour, his force numbered five legions and 
two thousand horse, roughly 27,000 men, and with this 
army, considerable as times went, he landed, unopposed, 
at Deal on the morning of July 22. Caesar tells us that 
the Britons were frightened by the great number of his 
ships seen sailing across the Channel, but the truth 
seems to be that he had been sowing jealousies and 
dissensions among the petty chiefs and kinglets of 
Kent, and that a secret understanding was arrived at 



222 THE DOVER ROAD 

between himself and a discreditable son of King Lud by 
which his landing should not be contested. However 
that may be, Caesar left a guard over his vessels, and 
started immediately on a twelve miles' night march 
inland, in force. 

When morning dawned, he found himself on a 
high table-land with a river flowing along a valley 
below him, and here he first descried the Britons. The 
place at which Caesar had arrived was Barham Downs, 
and the river he saw was the Lesser Stour, that even 
now, although a much smaller stream than then, flows 
through the valley to the right of the Dover Road. 
A road of some sort existed even at that time, although 
it perhaps might be more correctly described as a 
" track." Down it went the exports of that far 
distant age ; the undressed skins of wild animals ; 
the dogs and the gold ; and up this way from the 
primitive Dover came the beads and the trinkets ; 
the manufactures of pottery and glass, which our 
very remote fathers loved as much as the uncivilized 
races of to-day delight in the selfsame kind of thing. 

Caesar deployed his forces along the ridge of the 
Downs facing the road, the river, and the enemy, 
who had entrenchments on the further side of the 
river immediately fronting him and others advancing 
diagonally toward the road which they crossed on 
the northern hill-top at Bridge, ending at a point 
slightly to the north-east of the place where Bekes- 
bourne Station stands now. Caesar's first object was 
to reach the water in the valley, there to refresh his 
horses, and a forward cavalry movement was made with 
this object. 

But this advance precipitated the battle that was 
imminent, for the Britons, who held the opposite ridge 
in force, rushed down the slope to the waterside, 
and furiously attacked the Roman horse. Exhausted 
though they were by a waterless night march, the 
Roman cavalry met the assault, and, repelling it, 
drove the enemy back into the woods. This cavalry 



OLD ENGLAND'S HOLE" 



223 



charge was followed by a general advance into the 
dense thickets, into which, excellently suited, both 
by nature and by art, for defence, the Britons had 
retired. Here they fought in small bands, protected 
by mounds and trenches and by felled trees cunningly 
interlaced. One of these oppida remains in Bourne 
Park, on the summit of Bridge Hill and beside the 
Watling Street which, until 1829, was identical with 
the Dover Road. In that year a slight deviation 
was made to the left over the hilltop for about two 




OLD EXGLAXD'S HOLE. 



hundred yards' length of roadway, and in the course 
of cutting through the hill a number of Roman urns 
and skulls were discovered at a depth of five feet. 
The circular earthwork of the redoubt still remains 
in very good preservation, surrounded with trees, 
the successors of those which covered the hill when 
the Britons and Romans contended together here. 
The place is known locally as " Old England's Hole," 
and tradition has it that here the Britons made their 



224 THE DOVER ROAD 

last stand. Tradition is not lightly to be put aside 
at any time, but when it is supported by Csesar's 
own words it deserves all respect. " Being repulsed," 
he writes, " they withdrew themselves into the 
woods, and reached a place which they had prepared 
before, having closed all approaches to it by felled 
timber." The soldiers of the Seventh Legion, however, 
soon captured this stronghold. Throwing up a mound 
against it, they advanced, holding their shields over 
their heads in the formation known as " the tortoise," 
and drove out the defenders at the sword's point. 
This was the last place to hold out that day. Every- 
where the Britons were dislodged, and numbers of 
them slain. The survivors withdrew further into the 
woodlands that surrounded Caer Caint, and Caesar, 
suspecting ambuscades in those unknown forests, 
forbade pursuit. 

It was evening before the last fighting was done. 
The battle had raged on a front extending for three 
miles, from Bekesbourne to Kingston, and it now 
remained to camp for the night, and to fortify against 
a possible surprise the ridge which Caesar held. And 
so, before the exhausted soldiery could lie down to 
rest after the incessant labours of two days and 
nights, they threw up the lines of entrenchments 
that still, after a lapse of more than nineteen hundred 
years, remain distinct upon Barham Downs. 

The next day the Romans buried their dead, and 
Caesar had just despatched three columns in a forward 
movement towards Caer Caint, when hasty news 
arrived from Deal that a storm had shattered his fleet. 
The rear-guard of the hindmost column was just 
disappearing from his gaze as he stood on Patrixbourne 
Hill, and hurriedly sending messengers to bring the 
expedition back, he at once prepared to return to the 
coast, taking with him artificers for the repair of his 
vessels, and an escort suilicient to secure his own safety. 
Caesar had no certain means of knowing how long a time 
his absence would extend, but, bidding his legions to 



BATTLE OF BARHAM DOWNS 225 

remain in camp mitil his return, and meanwhile to 
increase the strength of their defences, he set out. 
He was absent ten days. In the meanwhile the courage 
of the Britons had revived. They perceived from their 
woody lairs the Roman soldiery busily throwing up 
mounds and long lines of earthworks on the level 
summit of the downs, and they judged that the 
invaders were compelled, either by fear, or from lack 
of numbers, to remain on the defensive. Their 
numbers increased as the days went by and the 
Romans made no advance, and they were now com- 
manded by a general of great ability, none less than 
the celebrated Cassivelaunus. Csesar, on his return, 
was harassed by them, and found his camp seriously 
threatened when he arrived. Leaving 10,000 men 
in camp, he advanced with the remainder, and made 
a determined stand on a spot that may be identified 
on the hills half a mile to the north-west of Bridge. 
Here a desperate and bloody day's fighting took place, 
the Britons returning again and again after repeated 
repulses. Many of the foremost legionaries who had 
pursued them into the woods were surrounded and 
slain there ; many more of the Britons fell in that 
glorious fight. One of the Roman tribunes, Quintus 
Laberius Durus, was killed that day, and Nennius, 
one of the foremost British leaders, was slain in the 
last onset, when he burst at the head of a chosen 
few on the Roman soldiery engaged in the formation 
of a camp. Both sides claimed the victory, and, 
indeed, Caesar had, so far, little reason to boast, for 
when night came he had only advanced three miles 
beyond the stream upon which his first camp on 
Barham Doa\tis had looked, and, even then, he had 
only been enabled to hold his own by the aid of 
reinforcements drawn from his camp-guard. The 
next day, however, put a different aspect upon his 
campaign. He had probably intended to rest his 
troops, and sent out a strong force only in order to 
perform the necessary foraging ; but the Britons 



226 THE DOVER ROAD 

attacked them with such fierceness that another battle 
was fought, resulting in a decisive victory for the 
Romans, who pursued the vanquished and cut them 
down for miles. The Britons were now thoroughly 
disheartened, and retreated towards London along 
their track-way, followed by Caesar. Desultory fighting 
occurred on the way, and one ineffectual stand was 
made at some unidentified place, conjectured to have 
been at Key Coll Hill, near Newington. But, thence- 
forward, the accounts left by C?esar and by early 
British writers grow confused. Whether the victorious 
general, in pursuit of Cassivelaunus, crossed the 
Thames at London, or whether " Co way Stakes," near 
Weybridge, mark the scene, will never be known. 
But when he had penetrated into Hertfordshire, 
and had humbled the British king to the point of 
asking for peace, Caisar found it was time to return to 
Gaul. Exacting hostages, he commenced his retreat. 
Harassed by flying bands of natives, who cut off 
stragglers and placed obstacles in his line of march, he 
reached Deal in September, sailing thence on the 
26th of that month. Thus ended Caesar's second and 
last invasion of Britain. He had been six weeks in the 
island ; had marched a hundred miles into its dense 
forests, and had humbled the native princes. But 
winter was approaching, and it was dangerous to delay. 
He returned to the Continent, a victor, with hostages, 
prisoners, and promises of tribute ; but he left many of 
his expedition, dead, behind him. And it is significant 
of how hazardous these invasions were, that not until 
another ninety-six years had passed did another 
Roman so much as land on these shores. 

The camp which Caesar constructed along Barham 
Downs is still to be seen. On this wild and worthless 
tract of land which has never known cultivation, the 
marks of the spade will exist for many centuries if 
left undisturbed by new-comers. And although many 
historic gatherings have taken place here, no entrench- 
ments have been made since the defeat of the Britons 



228 THE DOVER ROAD 

in B.C. 54. King John's army of sixty thousand men 
encamped here in 1213, to withstand the French 
invasion, and Simon de Montfort, somewhat later, 
at the head of disaffected Barons ; Henrietta Maria 
held her first Drawing Room here in a tent, while 
on her way to be married to Charles the First at 
Canterbury ; and, centuries afterwards, a great army 
encamped on Barham Downs in readiness for 
Napoleon's projected invasion. But on none of these 
occasions were any earthworks thrown up, and the 
fosses and ditches that still remain to be explored 
are of undoubted Roman construction. 

Here, amid these long lines of Roman entrenchments, 
occurs again the mysterious name of " Coldharbour, " 
a perplexing place-name that is found no less than 
170 times in England, in situations the most diverse 
and in districts widely scattered. At least twenty-six 
of these Coldharbours are to be found on the ordnance 
maps of Kent, and six of them on, or closely adjoining, 
the Dover Road. Their situation, scattered thus along 
the old military via of Watling Street, adds greatly 
to the force of the argument that this singular name 
has some connection with Roman times, but what 
connection, and what is the real meaning of the name, 
not all the acumen and ingenuity of archaeologists has 
ever been able to satisfactorily explain. The fact of 
the great majority of Coldharbours lying by the site of 
Roman roads or camps has led to the ingenious theory 
that they first acquired their name in Saxon times when, 
the country being wasted with ruthless and decimating 
wars, the Roman villas still remaining were destroyed, 
and great desolate tracts of country created. Travellers 
(this theory goes on to say) could find no other shelter 
on their journeys save the ruined walls of the once 
magnificent palaces that the Romans had left ; and as 
they crouched, shivering, to leeward of these ruinated 
and roofless remains of a decayed civilization, and tried 
to warm themselves at fires painfully and laboriously 
made of leaves and sticks, they called them " cold 



COLDH ARBOURS 229 

harbours." Unhappily for this theory, the places 
called " Coldharbour " are by no means always 
situated in exposed situations, and no remains of 
buildings have been discovered on their actual site, 
although their neighbourhood is frequently found to be 
rich in Roman remains. A suggestion has been made 
that " cold " is a variant of " cool," and that, far from 
being the miserable refugees of forlorn travellers, the 
Coldharbours were really the " Mount Pleasants " and 
" Belle Vues " of ancient times, to which our remote 
forbears resorted for "a breath of air." We should 
probably be within our rights in deriding this suggestion 
as a theory made to fit a fertile imagination, but it is 
not safe, in the presence of such an apparently insoluble 
problem, to do more than present a few of the 
derivations advanced. It would be equally rash to 
assume that the stations of the " colubris arbor," the 
Roman serpent-standard, gave their name to these 
places, although the idea is plausible enough. 

Many Coldharbours are in exceedingly exposed 
places, as indeed here, on Barham Downs,* and many 
more are in quite sheltered situations, in places where 
dense woodlands once spread, giving work and shelter 
to charcoal-burners. This fact has led to the formula- 
tion of another theory, one which holds that these 
strangely named places were, prosaically enough, 
" coal-harbours," or storage-places for charcoal. It 
is much to be desired that some leisured antiquary 
would devote himself to the elucidation of the name 
and the rescuing of the purpose of these Coldharbours 
from the mists of a remote and romantic antiquity. 
The other Kentish Coldharbours to be found near 

* An excellent story is told of the cold that rages up here in the winter. 
Tt belongs to coaching times, and was told by a coachman who had a new 
guard with him one frosty night, when the temperature was going down 
to Ir." ; a cockney guard who was unused to exposure, and who, moreover, 
had not the experience which led the Jehu to wrap himself up in layers of 
flannel, a many-caped coat, and three or four waistcoats. " Ain't it cold ? " 
asked the guard several times, climbing over the coach roof with numbed 
hands and blue nose. " Cold ! " returned the coachman, " not at all." 
" That's all very well," says the guard, " but your eyes are watering like 
hanythink." " Oh ! are they ? " rejoins the coachman, " I suppose that's 
the perspiration I " 



230 THE DOVER ROAD 

the Watling Street are at Bishopsbourne, Bridge, 
Newington, Northfleet, Sittingbourne, and Woolwich, 
and all — so close is the connection between the name 
and ancient dwellings — near the site of undoubted 
Roman stations or villas. Alike with the equally 
mysterious name of " Mockbeggar," which also occurs 
with great frequency, the meaning of " Coldharbour " 
will probably never be discovered.* 

Standing here beside the road at evening when 
the sun is going down and these bleak unenclosed 
uplands grow dark and mysterious, the centuries 
pass away like a fevered dream. Here and there 
the solemn expanse of the barren land is diversified 
by a few trees ; here and there a few yards of hedge, 
beginning nowhere in particular and ending with 
equal strangeness, skirt the way ; weather-beaten 
sign-posts start suddenly out of the moorland, and 
occasional haycocks take on a dead and awful blackness 
as the evening light dies out of the sky in long and 
angry streaks of red. When the moon rises and 
casts her cold beams upon the road and plays strange 
pranks with the shadows of trees and bushes, then 
the days of the Romans are come once more, and the 
legionaries live again. They rise from their camp 
of nineteen hundred years ago ; they march along the 
Watling Street that was made by their descendants ; 
and the sheen of their armour, the glitter of the pale 
moonlight on their eagle standards, and the tramp 

* There are " Mockbeggars " in Kent, as in most other counties. There is 
one near Rochester. Some old buildings pulled down in 1771 at Brighthelm- 
stone were called Mockbeggars. Local opinion held the belief that there had 
been a Mendicant Priory, but this was not generally credited. The name 
seems to have been generally applied to objects wearing at some distance the 
appearance of an hospitable mansion, to which travellers would be drawn 
out of their road only to meet with a disappointment in finding an empty 
house, or no house at all. Two such places, so called, are to be instanced : 
one is an isolated rock at Bakewell in Derbyshire, presenting from the road 
the semblance of a house, to whicli it is said beggars and tramps wend their 
way, only to be mocked by a freak of nature : seeking for bread they find, 
literally, a stone. The other is an old Tudor mansion, called Mockbeggar Hall, 
at Claydon in Suffolk, standing in a conspicuous situation, near the road 
leading from Ipswich to Scole ; a place to which mendicants would naturally 
be attracted, in expectation of finding inhabitants there, but which has, 
according to tradition, remained so long unoccupied as to have earned its 
name a hundred years, or more, ago. 



THE BARHAM FAMILY 233 

of many feet are as real to the imaginative traveller, 
if not of a greater reality, than the moaning telegraph 
that runs on countless poles in a diminishing procession 
beside the road as far as eye can reach. 



XL 

By daylight the traveller can see that the barren chalk 
of Barham Downs, although left so long in repose, has 
been lately cut up into golf links. A racecourse, little 
frequented now, also stands on the ridge. Bourne Park 
skirts the road for some distance on the right, and the 
spire of Barham Church, rising from behind a thick 
clump of trees in a little valley, shows where the village 
of Barham lies secluded, some three hundred yards 
down a country lane. 

How few the wayfarers who either notice where 
Barham stands or who visit it even when they know 
its situation ! And yet that place, together with its 
hamlet of Denton, is full of memories of one of the best 
and most genial among the humorists of the nineteenth 
century. There is a great deal of history, ancient and 
modern, genealogical and literary, about Denton and 
Barham, and the genealogical part of it commences in 
the reign of Henry the Second. At that time, the 
manor, including Denton and a great number of other 
hamlets round about, belonged to that Sir Randal, or 
Reginald, Fitzurse, who has come down through the 
ages as one of the murderers of Becket. Immediately 
after their crime, the murderers fled, Fitzurse escaping 
to Ireland, where he is said to have taken the name 
of MacMahon, which, meaning " Bear's son," was 
an Irish form of his original patronymic. He died 
an exile, leaving the Manor of Barham to his brother, 
who, so odious had the name of Fitzurse now become, 
changed it for that of his estate, and called himself 
De Bearham. His successors clipped and cut their 



234 THE DOVER ROAD 

name about until it became plain " Barham," and the 
manor finally descended to one Thomas Barham, who, 
in the reign of James the First, alienated it to the 
Rev. Charles Fotherby, Archdeacon of Canterbury. 
Thus were the Barhams torn from their native soil 
and rendered landless, for already they had sold 
their adjacent manor of Tappington Everard situated 
at Denton. Some improvident Barham had done 
this deed in the reign of Henry the Eighth, and the 
property passed through a number of hands until 
it was bought from Colonel Thomas Marsh by a 
wealthy hop-factor of Canterbury, Thomas Harris. 
The hop-factor died in 1726, leaving as sole heir his 
daughter, married to a Mr. John Barham. In this 
manner the Barhams became once more owners of 
a portion of their ancient heritage, and from this 
John Barham was descended that witty Minor Canon 
of St. Paul's, Richard Harris Barham, author of the 
Ingoldsby Legends. To one who knows his Ingoldsby 
well, and is possessed, moreover, of some antiquarian 
fervour, the neighbourhood of Denton and Barham 
must needs be of the greatest interest. Fact and 
fiction are so inextricably mixed up in those delightful 
tales of mirth and marvels that it would require 
all the knowledge of an expert in local and family 
history to disentangle them. The countryside appears 
in those pages under fictitious names, and the deeds 
or misdeeds of local families are decently veiled under 
many an alias ; and yet here and there are real 
names, and actual facts are cited, leaving the stranger 
in a delightful uncertainty what to accept for truth and 
what to disbelieve. The manor-house of Tappington, 
where Barham spent his youth, would seem to readers 
of the Legends to be a grand Elizabethan mansion, 
approached by a long avenue and guarded by gates 
bearing " the saltire of the Ingoldsbys." Indeed, 
Barham's fertile imagination led him to picture such a 
place on the frontispiece of the Legends ; but the 
stranger would seek for it in vain. Instead, he would 



TAPPINGTON 235 

find an ancient farmhouse, standing in a meadow 
skirting the road to Folkestone, a mile from the place 
where it branches from the Dover Road. An ancient 
farmhouse, its roof bent and bowed ^\'ith age, and the 
greater part of it shrouded in ivy, from which Tudor 
chimneys peep picturesquely. In the meadow are 
traces of walls and an old well which before the greater 
part of Tappington Manor-house was destroyed stood 
in a quadrangle formed by the great range of buildings. 
Within the farmhouse there remains much that is 
quaint and interesting. The chief feature is a grand 
oak staircase of Elizabethan or Jacobean period, with 
the merchant's mark of that " Thomas Marsh of 
Marston," familiar to readers of that fine legend The 
Leech of Folkestone, carved on the newel. On the 
whitewashed walls, crossed here and there by beams 
of black oak, hang portraits of half-real, half -legendary 
Ingoldsbys, and on the staircase landing, outside the 
bedroom of the " bad Sir Giles," are still shown 
bloodstains, relics of an extraordinary fratricide that 
was committed here while the war between Charles 
and the Parliament was raging. 

It is quite remarkable that while Barham clothed 
Tappington with many a picturesque legend and 
detail of his own invention, he never alluded to the 
genuine tragedy. The secret staircase, the " bad 
Sir Giles," " Mrs. Botherby," and many another 
picturesque but fictitious character or incident are 
introduced, and perhaps the visitor may feel somewhat 
disappointed at not finding the turrets, the hall, or 
the moat described so fully in the Legends ; but the 
story of the fratricide is genuine enough for the most 
sober and conscientious historian. It seems that 
when all England was divided between the partisans 
of Charles and his Parliament, Tappington Manor- 
house was inhabited by two brothers, descendants of 
the Thomas Marsh whose mark is on the staircase. 
They had taken different sides in the great struggle 
then going on, and had quarrelled so bitterly that 



236 THE DOVER ROAD 

they never spoke to one another, and actually lived 
in different parts of the house ; only using this staircase 
between them as they retired along it at night to their 
several apartments. One night they met on top of the 
stairs. No one knew what passed between them, 
whether black looks or bitter words were used ; but as 
the Cavalier passed, his Puritan brother drew a dagger 
and stabbed him in the back. He fell and died on the 
spot, and the blood-stains are there to this day. 

Opposite Tappington is the modernized Denton 
Court, with the old chapel of Denton standing in the 
Park. Of this you may read in the Legends, but 
those who seek the brass of the Lady Rohesia, with 
its inscription — 

'"* ^raic for ^e aohilc of ye i^atru ilo^ae, 
%nh for alle Cljrtslen aoinlcs ! " 

will be disappointed, for it is one of Barham's embellish- 
ments upon fact. " Tappington Moor " is, of course, 
Barham Downs, and the wild characteristics of the 
place are very well described in The Hand of Glory. 
The nearest approach to the Tappington gates existing 
in fact are the entrance gates to Broome Park, standing 
on the road near the lane leading to Barham ; and the 
mansion of Broome, an Elizabethan country house, 
bears a strong resemblance to the stately seat seen in 
Barham's drawing. 

The whole district abounds with legends and folk-lore 
suitable to this wild and treeless country, and that so 
romantic a humorist as Barham should have sprung 
from a local family of Kentish squires is only fitting. 
The terror of these parts at the end of last century 
was Black Robin, a highwayman who frequented the 
roads and made his headquarters at a little inn on the 
by-road between Bishopsbourne and Barham. " Black 
Robin's Corner " it is still called, but the negro's head 
of the sign is a libel upon that " gentleman of the road." 
He took his name, not from the colour of his skin, but 



THE " HALFWAY HOUSE " 237 

from the crape mask and the black clothes he wore, and 
from the black mare he rode. Not a pleasant fellow 
to meet 

On the lone bleak moor at the midnight hour. 
Beneath the gallows tree ; 

but almost preferable to the spectre horseman who 
led a foreign traveller out of his way on these Downs. 
Night had come on, overtaking a party of mounted 
travellers making for Dover, and so dark had it 
grown that they soon became separated. However, 
the hindmost party dimly perceived two cavaliers in 
front, and spurred towards them ; but when the horses' 
hoofs in advance flashed fire and their riders were 
seen to grow strangely luminous, these pixie-led 
travellers thought it time to turn back. It was time 
they did so, for already their horses were sinking in 
a bog, and as they turned they heard the rest of their 
party blowing their horns in quite another direction. 
Possibly they turned in at the " Halfway House " 
that stands away back from the road behind a screen 
of trees, just past the eighth milestone ; both to take 
something to enliven their spirits withal and to tell 
the landlord of these strange happenings. If they 
did, I have no doubt that they saw stranger sights 
still when they came forth, when the earth would 
rise up and smite them in the face, and the swinging 
sign of the " Halfway House " would perform a 
somersault over the constellations. For they dealt 
in strange and curious liquors here in the days of 
old ; spirits that had never paid tribute to the Excise, 
and were ever so many degrees over-proof, made the 
heart of man glad and his legs to tie themselves into 
Gordian knots. You cannot get so immediately and 
incapably drunk nowadays at the " Halfway House," 
and 'tis better so, but I have seen the place drunk 
dry in the space of an hour by thirsty Volunteers 
marching from London to Dover at Eastertide. 
When they had gone, it was as hopeless to call for a 
draught of ale as I imagine it would have been to ask 



238 THE DOVER ROAD 

the hostess for that old-time Kentish deUcacy, the 
" pudding-pie," that was once to be had for the asking 
at any inn during Easter week. The " pudding-pie " 
has almost entirely vanished from Kent, but, " once 
upon a time," not to have tasted one was regarded as 
unlucky, and it was the usual thing for ale-house 
customers to ask for a " pudding-pie " as a right. 
" Neow, missus," the Kentish yokel would say, " let uz 
teaste one o' them 'ere puddeners o' yourn," and the 
" missus " would hand him a flat circular tart, about 
the size of a saucer, and filled with custard sprinkled 
thinly with currants. 

Downs extend all the way from here to Lydden, 
three miles away, and Lydden itself lies enfolded in 
a chalky botton through which the road runs steeply. 
Downs stretch on either side of the tiny village and 
frown down upon it, making its insignificance more 
marked and its little cottages and little church look 
like toys. On the left hand, at the distance of half 
a mile, goes the railway, past that old village of 
Siberts would, which railway directors in a conspiracy 
with Kentish rustics have agreed to call " Shepherds- 
well," and it continues in a deep, precipitous cutting 
through the chalk to Kearsney station, another three 
miles ahead ; and so presently into Dover. And 
now the road leads uphill to Ewell, where the springs 
of the little river Dour burst forth and gem all the 
valley hence to Dover with gracious foliage. The good 
folk of Ewell have recovered the " Temple " prefix to 
the village name. As " Temple Ewell " it was 
anciently known, for here once was situated a 
Preceptory of the Knights Templar. 

The Dour, whose name means simply " water," 
bubbles up in springs at Temple Ewell, and is fed by a 
stream which comes down the valley on the right, from 
Alkham, two miles or so away, and from Drellingore, a 
further mile. That stream is intermittent ; being a 
" nailbourne," or chalk stream ; storing up water in its 
caverns until, these being filled, either by exceptional 



THE DRELLINGORE STREAM 



239 



rains, or long accumulation of springs, there comes an 
overflow, generally doing more than fill the usually dry 
bed. The Drellingore stream will then very often flood 
the road. 




FLOODS AT ALKHAM: THE DRELLIXGORE STREAM. 

The romantic name comes from the old Norman- 
French " Drelincourt," the name of an extinct manorial 
family once holding land in these parts. The water- 
course is often dry for years, and the filling of it is thus 
a local event, long ago made the subject of legends of 
dread and prophecies of scarcity. Thus the old saying : 

When Drellingore stream flows to Dover town, 
Wheat shall be forty shillings and barley a pound. 

So much a quarter is understood by that. 

Well, then, Drellingore stream burst out with 
exceptional floods in April, 1914, and flowed to Dover 
town, and flooded the valley at Alkham. Wheat was 
then round about 37^. lOld. a quarter, and barlev was 
20s. ^cl 

Wheat had been steadily rising from its lowest, at 
22s. lOd. in 1894 ; and barley from 21^. lid. in 1895. 
Barley was never so low as 206-. What, therefore, is the 
implication of the ominous legend, in respect of barley ? 

In less than four months the Great War, 1914-18 



240 THE DOVER ROAD 

broke out, and wheat in 1915 was up to 52^. lOcZ., and 
barley 345. 7d. The course of prices, 1916-1921, was : 





Wheat. 


Barley. 


1916 


58/5 


53/6 


1917 


75/9 


64/9 


1918 


72/10 


59/0 


1919 


72/11 


75/9 


1920 


80/10 


108/11 


1921 


85/4 


73/7 



Prices during the Great War very reasonably agitated 
the community, but in the period of the Napoleonic 
wars wheat rose to its highest recorded price : 1265. 6^. 
in 1812 ; that is, thirty-one shilhngs and twopence a 
quarter dearer than ever it has been in our own times. 
Barley, on the contrary, was very much dearer in 1920 
than ever it had been ; for the top price then was 
405. 5d. above the former highest : 685. 6d. in 1801. 

The road now grows suburban to Dover, and the 
valley commences to open out toward the sea. Where 
the Dour flows, all the vegetation is luxuriant, and there 
are lovely ponds decked with water-liUes beside the 
Grabble meadows, below the highway to the right and 
near the prettily named village of River ; but as the 
hills rise on either hand they grow barren again and 
stretch for miles right and left. One green spot amid 
these eternal chalky undulations lies off to the right. 
This is Saint Radigund's Abbey, sometimes called by 
two aliases, either " Kearsney " or " Bradsole " Abbey. 
The first is the legitimate name, the others are given by 
its neighbourhood and by the wide (or " broad ") pond 
(or " sole ") that stood beside the ruins. Little is left 
of the old abbey but a gatehouse and some beautiful 
stone-and-flint diapered walls, built into an old farm- 
stead ; but, although so little remains, what there is left 
deserves a visit from either architect or artist. Through 
this valley came King John on that shameful day when, 
having previously made an informal submission to 
Pandulf the Papal Legate in the Templars' house at 
Ewell, he proceeded to formally ratify the gift of 



BUCKLAND 



241 



himself and his kingdom in the Templars' Church on 
Dover Heights. 

Where the Dour crosses the road at Buckland the 
open highway ends. 



"B^^^ 




^:^^'' ^ '^L ^'" 



ST. EADIGUND'S ABBEY. 



Buckland church was enlarged in 1880, and it was 
then found necessary to move the ancient yew, reputed 
to be over a thousand years old, in the churchyard. 
A writer calling himself " Old Humphrey " mentions 
the tree in his Country Strolls, 1841 : — '' The tree is 
hollow, and time and the elements have writhed it into 
fantastic shapes. I can see, or fancy I can see, snakes 
and dragons in its twisted branches." 

It was not without some anxiety that the people of 
Buckland viewed the proposed removal by some sixty 
feet of a tree for which they have much affection. 



242 THE DOVER ROAD 

The weight was estimated at fifty-six tons. The 
contractor was to have forfeited a great part of his 
price if the removal and replanting caused the tree to 
die ; but the work was done skilfully, and the old yew 
seems actually to have become more flourishing for its 
change. 

Henceforward are streets, first suburban, but 
presently continuous and crowded, for the two miles 
that remain. Dover is reached, and the road is done. 



XLI 

Ix the London Road approach to Dover, one mile from 
the centre of the town, there used to stand an old inn 
called " The Milestone.'' A hatter's shop now occupies 
the site ; but two old milestones are yet there. One 
says " 70 miles to London ; 14 miles to Canterbury," 
and the other proclaims it to be " 1 mile to Dovor." 

This old spelling of " Dover " was common until the 
opening of the railway era ; and the coach-bills of the 
great Dover Road coach-proprietors, Home, Chaplin, 
and Gray, sj^elt the place-name " Dovor," with two 
" o's," instead of an " o " and an " e." 

It will be expected of me that I should say something 
of Dover, and I do not intend to disappoint so very 
reasonable an expectation, although the Dover Road 
having been traversed, the object of this book is 
accomplished ; and, therefore, any remarks I may have 
to offer must be informed, not with the prolixity of the 
local history, nor with the stodgy statistics of the 
Guide Book, but with conciseness and something of the 
sympathy which shows that to which but few Guide 
Books ever attain — the true inwardness of the place. 
It is quite easy to be contemptuous of Dover, from the 
visitor's point of view ; from other vantage-grounds it 
is a great deal more easy to acquire a certain enthusiasm 
for the old Cinque Port, its streets, its piers, its Castle, 



" DEAR " DOVER 243 

and the more modern fortifications which cross the 
Western Heights. 

Thy cliffs, dear Dover ! harbour and hotel ; 

Thy custom-house, with all its delicate duties; 
Thy waiters running mucks at every bell ; 

Thy packets, all whose passengers are booties 
To those who upon land or water dwell : 

And last, not least, to strangers uninstructed, 
Thy long, long bills, whence nothing is deducted. 

sang Byron. 

Turning, hoAvever, to a consideration of the two other 
objects of Byron's outburst in Don Juan, the hotel and 
the chffs, whether Shakespeare's CUff or those that 
form so grand a rampart away towards the North 
Foreland, Byron, we find, was justified in his choice of 
Dovorian features for due commemoration. For the 
cliffs, all that is to be said of the white walls of old 
Albion has been long ago committed to print, and I do 
not propose to attempt the saying of anything new 
about them. As for the hotel of which the poet 
speaks, it was probably the " Ship." The " Ship," 
alas ! is gone, retired, as many of its landlords were 
enabled to do, into private life, and the " long, long 
bills " by which they earned rather more than a modest 
competency are now produced elsewhere. The " Lord 
Warden," which was not, unfortunately, built in 
Byron's time, could probably have aflforded him 
material for another stanza or two, for that huge 
and supremely hideous building was celebrated at 
one time for the monumental properties of the bills 
presented to affrighted guests. Magnificent as were 
the charges made by rapacious hosts elsewhere, they 
all paled their ineffectual items before the sublime 
heights attained by the account rendered to Louis 
Napoleon when he stayed here. 

There are limits even to Princely-Presidential purses 
and patiences, and few people cared to incur liabilities 
at the " Lord Warden," which would have brought the 
shadow of the Bankruptcy Court looming upon the 
horizon. As for that most doughty of Lord Wardens 



244 THE DOVER ROAD 

of the Cinque Ports, from whose historic office the hotel 
takes its title — I name here, of course, the one and only 
" Duke of Wellington " — he usually resorted to an 
unpretending hostelry, the " Royal Oak Commercial 
Hotel," in Cannon Street, nearly opposite the old 
Church of St. Mary's, whenever he was called to the 
town. 

It is not enough to know that Dover is a town of 
hoary antiquity ; that Caesar landed here B.C. 55 (or 
that he did not land here, but at Deal, as the more 
scholarly antiquaries inform us). It is not sufficient to 
be floored with such heavy slalDS of historical informa- 
tion as those by which we learn that the name of Dover 
has been arrived at through a long series of British, 
Roman, and Saxon forms, originating from the little 
stream called anciently the Dour, that flowed, once upon 
a time, through the chalk valley of Temple Ewell and 
Buckland, tinkling cheerfully through the old town and 
falling into the waves over the pebbles of Dover beach ; 
now, alas ! pouring a contaminating flood through 
sewer-pipes far out to sea. I say, it is not enough to 
know that the Romans latinized the name to Dubris, 
that it w^as variously Doroberniic, Dofris, Dovere, and 
in the eighteenth century occasionally " Dovor," 
finally to have the seal set on these changes by its 
present name. It is not even sufficient to know 
(although it is highly interesting) that Domesday Book 
opens with Dover, commencing as it does, " Dovere 
tempore regis Edwardi." But this last slice of historical 
provand is more than usually welcome because it gives 
us a foothold whereon to begin the exploration of the 
old town. When one comes to reduce the tough and 
gnarled latinity of Domesday Book to English as we 
speak it, we find this first entry to recite that King 
Edward the Confessor held a lien on a portion of the 
town rents, and that Earl Godwin also partook of 
what the Radical politics of our own time term 
" unearned increment." Edward the Confessor was a 
mild-mannered man and weak. It is, for instance, 



DOVER HARBOUR 245 

primarily owing to his unfortunate preference for the 
foreigner that we owe the Norman invasion and 
conquest of England ; but for all his mildness, it is 
extremely unlikely that this saintly invertebrate would 
not have resented the talk of " unearned increment " in 
his day. He was sufficiently considerate, however, so it 
would seem, to reduce the rents in his town of Dover, 
seeing that, although a thriving place, it had had the 
misfortune to be burned. The entry in Domesday 
Book goes on to say that here was a Guildhall, and a 
mill at the entry of the port, much in the way of 
shipping ; and here, at this mention of the port Ave find 
our most eloquent text. 

It seems, then, that when Caesar came off here, the 
site ujDon which almost half the present town of 
Dover is built was under water. The peculiar site 
of Dover can perhaps most readily be noted by one 
who climbs the bare chalk hills that bear on their 
summits the defences known as the Western Heights. 
Keeping to rearward of the Citadel, and walking 
round the shoulders of these hills, one sees that a 
deep and narrow valley runs down to the sea-beach, 
contracting almost to the likeness of a narrow gorge 
where the old town commences, and widening again 
where it meets the sea. Here, where the site broadens, 
and where steep streets give place to flatness, rolled the 
tides up the little estuary of the River Dour when 
Caesar's triremes anchored off the primitive port, and 
antiquaries point out the place, near the present Round 
Tower Street, where, so late as 1509, a tower was raised, 
to which vessels lying in the harbour were moored by 
iron rings. This is almost the only natural feature of 
Dover that has changed during nineteen centuries. 
Walk to the outmost verge of the Admiralty Pier and 
look back upon the town, and you will see it lying in 
the hollow, with the gaunt and horrid stucco houses 
of its " front " hiding the old streets that crouch 
behind in narrow ways. You will see the Castle 
Hill and the Western Heights, twin eminences guarding 



246 THE DOVER ROAD 

the land and the open roadstead of the Downs ; and, 
although the grey Castle crowns one cliff and the 
modern fortifications crest the other, yet, for all the 
ages during which man has been burrowing galleries 
here and piling up stonework and masonry there, if 
Csesar could revisit the scene of his ineffectual descent 
upon Britain, he w^ould find no difficulty in recognizing 
it. Only, the estuary where he beached his vessels is 
long since silted up and is buried beneath many feet of 
the rubble and refuse, the shards and potsherds that 
mark the passing of many busy generations. Here, 
on these ancient dust-heaps and kitchen-middens 
stands the chief business street of Dover, Snargate 
Street, running parallel with the sea, but now separated 
from it by the breadth of the Harbour and many 
intermediate alleys, smelling vehemently of tar and 
stale reminiscences of ocean. Snargate Street is long 
and narrow, a model neither of cleanliness nor of 
convenience, and it crouches humbly beneath the 
towering cliffs which rise on its landward side, cut, 
carved, and tunnelled ; honeycombed with stores, forts, 
and galleries, and grimed with the smoke from the 
clustered chimneys of the houses below. Other short 
and frowzy alleys run against the soiled chalk, and 
end there with a whimsical abruptness. Elbow room 
here is none, and to find it, one ventures upon the 
Harbour quays, toward the Docks and the Basins, 
where little gangways and iron swing-bridges lead 
to culs-de-sac, or end in sudden and precipitous descents 
into the water, causing the unwonted stranger fre- 
quently to retrace his steps and to swear freely. 
But, if one avoids these cryptic curse-compelling j^laces, 
the Harbour is a very interesting place ; much more so 
than the " front," where people walk up and down 
aimlessly, the women dressed to kill, and glaring at one 
another as they pass, like strange cats on a roof-top. 
Here, instead, is the reality of life, and a variety that is 
lacking beyond. In the basins floats generally a 
strange and fortuitous concourse of vessels ; schooners. 



SHAKESPEARE CLIFF 247 

yachts, cutters, hoys, smacks, brigantines," billy-boys," 
and steamers of every age, size, and trade, from the neat 
passenger-boats, with their decks holystoned to wonder- 
ment, to the dirty ocean-tramp, or the ink}^ wallo^ving 
collier ; together with other craft whose names are 
unknown to the landsman. Likewise, there are many 
of the mercantile marine about. One may not, 
contrary to general belief, know these by their dress, 
for there is no peculiarity in the raiment of the 
mercantile Jack — except perhaps for its raggedness, 
poor fellow — by which he may be recognized. Rather 
would one know him by his anxious expression of 
countenance and by that inveterate habit of his, 
ashore, of leaning heavily against walls and posts, or 
anything capable of giving support. You may notice 
poor Jack's favourite haunts hereabouts by the bare 
and burnished appearance of the brick and paint 
bordering on the Docks, and situated at a height of 
about four feet from the ground, where his shoulders 
have rubbed immemorially. 



XLII 

Since we are in the way of it, it comes naturally to 
include Shakespeare Cliff in this little survey. You 
reach it from here either by a hideous contrivance 
called the Shaft, fashioned in the cliffs that frown down 
upon Snargate Street, or by Limekiln Street beyond. 
Here, on the way, is Archcliffe Fort, between the Citadel 
and the sea. They say, who should know, that it is 
heavily armed, but it is not at all impressive : old boots, 
tin cans, brick-bats, cabbage-stalks, and rusty umbrella- 
frames rarely are ; and of these there are rich and varied 
deposits lying in the fosse, amid the scanty grass where 
industrious sheep endeavour to earn a living. Indeed, 
this is the most eloquent picture of mild-eyed Peace 
I have ever seen, and Landseer's painting which shows a 



248 THE DOVER ROAD 

sheep snuffling in the mouth of a dismantled cannon is 
quite weak beside it. 

Looking over the chff' s edge, just beyond, is a view 
of the beach below, where the South Eastern Railway 
runs on a wooden viaduct, entering a double tunnel 
through the chalky mass of Shakespeare Cliff, rising 
sheer from the sea to a height of three hundred and 
fifty feet. A narrow footpath leads to the breezy 
summit, surmounted by a Coastguard Station, and here 
you may gaze, if you have good nerves, over the brink 
of the precipice, and listen to the hissing of the pebbles 
far down below, as the waves drag them back and forth : 

. . . .Here's the place : stand still. 
How fearful 

And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low ! 
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air 
Show scarce so gross as beetles : half-way down 
Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade! 
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head : 
The fishermen that walk upon the beach 
Appear like mice ; and yond tall anchoring bark, 
Diminished to her cock ; her cock, a buoy 
Almost too small for sight : the murmuring surge 
That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes, 
Cannot be heard so high ; I'll look no more, 
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight 
Topple down headlong. 

How eloquent is that passage from King Lear ! 

Just past Shakespeare Cliff come the twin workings of 
the Channel Tunnel and the coal-mine, those notorious 
fiascos which have cost the South Eastern shareholders 
so much, and have afforded journalists so large an 
amount of good " copy." From the cliff -top, a steep 
and winding stairway cut in the chalk leads down to the 
beach and the Dover coal mine and the beginnings of 
the Channel Tunnel. Much money has been sunk in 
both. Some day the Tunnel will be completed ; but 
no one expects coal ever to be commercially mined here. 

Turn we, though, from these projects to the 
Admiralty Pier, that centre of interest to visitors and 
Dover folks alike. Some one — I know not whom — has 
styled the Admiralty Pier " the pier of the realm," and 
truly, though you search these coasts, you shall find 



THE ADMIRALTY PIER 249 

nothing to compare with it, as a pier. Plymouth 
Breakwater is a great deal more impressive, but then, 
it is not a pier, but is set down in midst of a tempestuous 
Sound, where no one can get at it without risk and 
trouble. And the Admiraly Pier owes its very great 
fame largely to the ease with which you can reach it 
and promenade up and down its almost interminable 
pavings. Crowds come to see the boats off or in, and 
people are always sweeping the seas with telescopes and 
field-glasses, finding a perennial joy in so doing, 
difficult to be understood. The boats come in, the 
tidal trains run out along the huge stone causeway ; 
passengers pallid and cold, muffled up in overcoats, 
glancing around with lack-lustre eyes, crawl miserably 
from the decks and cabins of the Channel steamers 
under the amused scrutin}^ of the callous crowd, and 
seat themselves thankfully in the waiting train. 
Other steamers wait impatiently, shrieking inter- 
mittently ; and other trains bring down intending 
passengers for the night crossing to France. Sometimes 
strange scenes are witnessed on the night mail, when 
passengers are streaming from the boat-express across 
the gangways. Quiet gentlemen with little luggage and 
a marked disinclination for the society of their fellows 
are discovered, as they lurk in remote corners of the 
deck, seeking to sneak quietly out of the " very front 
door of England," by other gentlemen — gentlemen with 
broad shoulders and square-toed boots — who tap them 
on the shoulder with an equal absence of fuss or 
demonstration, and these quiet gentlemen usually say — 
not without a certain start of surprise, you may be 
sure — " Oh ! I'll come quietly." Then the three (for 
they are usually two who thus accost one of these 
undemonstrative and retiring passengers) step again on 
to the Admiralty Pier, and apparently abandon their 
Continental trip, for they go up to London by the 
next train. Sometimes a quiet gentleman refuses to 
" come quietly " when his shoulder is tapped, and 
then those who do the tapping are obliged to resort 



250 THE DOVER ROAD 

to the painful, not to say humiliating, process of 
snapping a jDair of handcuffs on his wrists, much to 
the surprise of the passengers. But whether gentlemen 
elect to go quietly or to take it fighting is not much 
matter : the result is the same. Sometimes these quiet 
ones came back to Dover after a while, and were 
accommodated in free quarters on the Castle Hill ; 
presently revisiting the harbour as masons under 
Government employ. They come here no longer, for 
the convict prison on the hill is deserted, and the 
harbour-works are now carried on with paid labour. 

And Britain is proceeding with some energy to rule 
the waves at Dover, for the Harbour of Refuge is 
completed ; to the end that the battle-ships, the 
merchantmen beating up and down Channel, and the 
fisher-boats may ride in some degree of safety, protected 
from the north-easterly gales that nowadays strew the 
Downs and the Goodwin Sands with wrecks. For 
centuries this project had been discussed — and shelved 
in the dusty pigeon-holes of the Admiralty offices. 
Raleigh reported in the reign of Elizabeth that " no 
promontory, town, or haven in Europe was so well 
situated for annoying the enemy, protecting commerce, 
or sending and receiving despatches from the Con- 
tinent ; " and works were commenced to replace the 
pier begun by Henry the Eighth that had been 
abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin. But when 
Defoe was here the Harbour had fallen back into its 
old state, half-choked Avith shingle cast up b}^ the set 
of the tides from the westward, and the piers decayed. 
" Ill-repaired, dangerous, good for nothing, very 
chargeable and little worth," those were the epithets 
the author of Robinson Crusoe applied to it, and thus it 
remained until 1847, despite local and half-hearted 
attempts to prevent the accumulation of shingle. 
In that year the Admiralty Pier was commenced. 
Meanwhile, the sea, and the tides, thrust out from 
Dover Harbour by this mighty arm, are setting in 
strongly upon the Castle Cliffs, and that Castle, the 



252 THE DOVER ROAD 

survival of six hundred years of strife and change, is 
being very slowly but very surely undermined. And 
thus it goes round our coasts ; turn away the currents 
that eat up particular strips of the land or choke up the 
havens with sea-drift, and they set with additional fury 
upon the next unprotected place, presently to be, at 
great cost, referred elsewhere. It is a game that never 
ends : a game of General Post of which the sea, at 
least, never tires. 



XLIII 

Dover Castle possesses the longest and most 
continuous, if not quite the most stirring, military 
history of any fortress within these narrow seas. 
Described picturesquely by ancient chroniclers as " the 
very front door of England," or, as " clavis Anglise 
et repagulum," it is, and in very truth has ever been, 
since its foundation, the main bulwark of Britain 
against foreign foes. At what precise period a Castle 
was first raised here is a question that has never yet 
and probably never will be settled. The Romans 
built their lighthouse here, with another on the 
topmost point of the Western Heights, but the first 
Castle is not supposed to have been built before the 
time of Edward the Confessor, and the first reference 
to it is found in that oath which Harold swore to the 
Duke of Normandy, that he would yield up to him 
both the fortress and the well which was contained in 
" castellum Dofris.'^ Of this building nothing now 
appears to be left, and the earliest portion of the 
present Castle is Henry the Second's Keej). 

But whatever the size and strength of the Castle 
that stood here in Harold's day, it would seem to 
have been formidable enough to induce William the 
Conqueror to seek a landing elsewhere. He landed 
at Pevensey, and it was not until after Hastings and 
the fall of Romney that he turned and took Dover from 



DOVER CASTLE 253 

the rear. The Castle was then made the seat of 
government for Kent, and one of those fierce fighting 
Bishops, Odo, half-brotlier of the Conqueror, installed. 
The Kentish people, revolting in 1074, endeavoured in 
vain to seize it ; it was held against Stephen, and 
eventually surrendered to him ; and here within the 
gloomy walls of the Saxon stronghold he died in 1154. 
No sooner was Henry the Second crowned than his 
advisers urged the rebuilding of the Castle, and to this 
period belong the Keep and the Inner Ward. Sixty 
years later the fortifications of Henry's reign received 
their first shock of war when, England having been 
given by the Pope to Louis, the son of Philip Augustus, 
King of France, that Prince endeavoured to take the 
gift. But hateful though John, King of England, 
might be. Englishmen were neither content that their 
allegiance should be transferred Avithout reference to 
themselves, nor willing to become again the prey of 
invaders. Therefore, thej^ bade Prince Louis to take 
the Pope's j^resent if he could, and held Dover Castle 
against his forces. England, divided against itself, 
had permitted Louis to land, and even to be crowned 
in London, but the Constable of Dover Castle at that 
time, Hubert de Burgh, was a patriot to be won over 
neither by threats nor promises, and he held the Castle 
against all comers. The siege was undertaken in 
earnest. Louis sent over to France for all the artillery 
that the time could produce. It consisted of battering- 
rams and stone-throwing machines, and in this way it 
was sought to breach the walls. A wooden shelter for 
the attacking force was constructed and built up to 
the outer walls of the inland face of the Castle, and 
under cover of this device the soldiers worked the 
battering-rams until the defences shook again. The 
garrison retorted by flinging heavy stones and fire-balls 
on the shelter, and would either have demolished or 
burnt it had it not been for an ingenious invention 
which the French had imported. This consisted of a 
series of tall wooden towers called malvoisins, and 



254 THE DOVER ROAD 

ill-neighbours, indeed, they were, for they were 
established on the edge of the Castle ditch, where, 
overlooking the outer ward, and being filled with archers 
whose practice soon slackened the defenders' fire, they 
would soon have brought the siege to a close, had not 
the death of the English King removed internal quarrels 
and aroused a united spirit of patriotism throughout 
England which boded ill for the prospects of the French 
prince. The invaders retired from London and the 
southern counties which they had held, not so much by 
force of arms as by favour of disaffected Englishmen ; 
they gave up the siege of Dover Castle, and presently 
re-embarked for France. 

The struggles between a despotic King and a 
rapacious nobility which had caused these troubles 
in the reign of John were soon resumed, and Dover 
Castle became alternately the hold of one party or 
the other. The most notable incident in these events 
was that of 1265, when the Barons held the Castle 
and had fourteen knights of the King's party 
imprisoned in the Keej). Prince Edward attacked 
the Castle from without, and the prisoners, bursting 
out from their cells and rushing upon their gaolers from 
within, forced the garrison to surrender. 

It was in the time of Edward the First that Dover 
Castle reached its full development. That was the 
grand era of castle -building in England, when military 
engineering was practised without reference to ordnance, 
and had attained to a remarkable ingenuity. Like all 
Edwardian Castles, that of Dover is concentric and 
has three wards, enclosed within high curtain walls 
strengthened with a great number of defensible towers. 
The outer ward had no less than twenty-seven of these 
towers, among which the Constable's Tower and 
gateway is first for size and beauty. 

It is a long, steep, and dusty climb to Dover Castle 
from the town. Halfway up, the visitor of forty years 
ago would be attracted by the tinkling of a small bell, 
and, looking round, his gaze would fall upon haggard 



THE KEEP 255 

creatures, gaunt and unkempt, who crouched behind 
iron bars and piteously adjured him to " remember the 
poor debtors." Poor devils ! condemned by the 
brutaUty of obsolescent laws to moulder in captivity in 
expiation for pitiful debts. But brutal though we were 
until comparatively recent years, we must not believe 
Victor Hugo when he says that in 1820 the grim 
picturesqueness of the Castle Hill was enhanced by the 
sj^ectacle of three malefactors' bodies, tarred and 
obscene, which swung in the winds of Heaven. That 
picturesque detail is more romantic than truthful ; 
but the man who, like Victor Hugo, could write 
seriousl}^ in another place of the Firth of Forth as 
" la premiere de la quatrieme " is not to be taken for 
either geographer or historian. 

All these evidences of a brutal age are gone, and 
Dover Castle is remarkable nowadays chiefly for the 
extraordinary way in which old and new are grafted 
one upon another. Side by side with the Xorman 
Keep are modern magazines and military storehouses, 
while the curtain walls of the wards give support 
to repositories of Royal Artillery shot and shell. 
Even the roof of the Keep is put to practical purpose 
by the War Department, for it has been vaulted and 
strengthened to carry a battery of heavy cannon. 
The Keep is of three floors ; on the third floor are 
the State apartments in which Charles the First 
welcomed his Queen, and where, seventeen years 
later, he bade her a sad adieu. They are gloomy 
rooms, heavy with suspicion of danger, conspiracy, 
and intrigue, and are approached by a staircase 
flanked with secret guard-rooms ; the walls pierced 
with arrow-slits, scarcely to be distinguished in the 
darkness of the place, even when you are bidden to 
look for them. 

It is strange to read in the struggles between Charles 
and the Parliament with what laxity fortresses were 
often held for either side. Dover Castle is a case in 
point. It was held for the King by a small force whose 



256 THE DOVER ROAD 

discipline and courage were so to seek that it needed but 
the daring of a Dover merchant and a few followers to 
capture it. With this exploit ends the story of the 
warlike doings here, and all that is left to tell relates 
only to Marlborough's French prisoners, who were for 
years cooped up within these walls pining and eating 
away their hearts for very love and despair of ever 
reaching la belle France, whose outlines they could 
dimly see from the narrow embrasures of their foreign 
prison. 

For from Dover Keep the Eye of Faith may discern 
the coast of France, twenty-one miles across the 
Silver Streak ; but there be those to w^hom, if visible 
at all, that coast seems like nothing so much as filmy 
clouds resting upon the water, and there are but few 
days when the sun and the absence of sea-mists enable 
the Englishman's straining eyes clearly to discern 
that land. 

The famous well of Dover Castle still exists, enclosed 
in the massive w^alls, and still nearly three hundred 
feet deep, despite the rubbish and unmentionable 
abominations cast into it by the prisoners, who chiefly 
occupied the second floor in which are the Norman 
Chapel and two large rooms, their walls still bearing 
traces of the prisoners' handiwork in the shape of 
inscriptions. Here is the Armoury, with matchlocks, 
Brown Besses, muskets, and rifles ; obsolete and in use. 
Here, too, are the pikes issued to the peasantry when all 
England armed to resist Napoleon's threatened invasion. 
Down below (you can see it from those embrasures) is 
" Queen Elizabeth's Pocket Pistol," familiar, even to 
those who have never seen it, by the popular rhyme — 

Load me well and keep me clean, 
And I'll carry a ball to Calais Green ; 

and all around are batteries old and new. 

The sentry on Dover Keep at night, when all the 
world is still, has leisure for contemiDlation. When the 
moon rises in solemn majesty on summer nights and 



HISTORY AT DOVER 257 

makes a lane of silvery glory across the Channel ; 
when the winking light from Cape Grisnez shows where 
the French coast lies, and the glow from the lighthouse 
on the Admiralty Pier marks the harbour at his feet ; 
when Dover lamps burn yellow beside the moonrays, 
and the high-road to London lies stark and white in the 
valley of the Dour, then may the sentry on his eyrie 
hear, between the ghostly tapping of the halyards on 
the flagstaff, the tramp of the ages. Forty centuries 
looked down upon the French in Egypt ; the sentry on 
Dover Castle looks upon nineteen hundred years of 
invasion and foreign expeditions. There, where 
Dover streets now stand, rode Csesar's galleys and there 
our ancestors bled for their country. Down that white 
highway, so still at this midnight hour, have marched 
many generations of archers, men-at-arms, and soldiers 
of a more recent era, to return, covered with wounds and 
glory ; and across that shining sea have sailed fleets 
innumerable. For a distance of four hundred feet 
below him run a series of fortified galleries and 
platforms, built in the Castle Keep or excavated through 
the solid chalk down to sea-level ; while level with him, 
rise the Western Heights, rich in heavy ordnance, 
across the town. Here, then, is the end of the Dover 
Road, looking out across the sea ; and he must needs 
be dull of brain who does not perceive the epic fitness 
of its ending. 



THE END 



INDEX. 



PAGE 

Alkham 238 

Bapchild 144, 162 

Barham 233 

Barham Downs 1, 96, 218, 222-233, 236 

Barham Family 233-235 

Barham. Rev. Richard Harris ...80, 234 

Berket, Thomas a 13, 18. 19, 95, 134 

151, 186, 194, 197, 207-213, 216, 233 

Bell Grove 44 

Bexley 45 

Bexley Heath 44, 45-47 

Blackheath 18, 24-35 

Black Prince, The 185, 204-207 

Black Robin's Corner 236 

Borough, The 7-18 

Bossenden Woods 179-182 

Boughton-under-Blean 172, 173, 179, 181 

Bridge 217 

Broome Park 236 

Buckland 241 

Cade, Jack 6, 31 

Caesar, Julius ...1, 96, 145, 148, 218-226 
244-246 

Canterbury 3, 74, 97, 174, 183 

187-216 228 
Canterbury Pilgrims 11-18, 172, 18.3-186 
194-197, 207-213, 216 
Caroline, Princess of Wales and 

Queen 25, 56 

Chalk ...66, 81-86 

Charles II 33, 68, 70, 89, 90, 121 

Charlton 34, 35 

Chatham 126-140, 200 

Chaucer. Geoffrey 11, 172, 183, 184 

" Church Ales " 82 

Clavell, John 87 

Cleves, Anne of 117-119 

Coaches : — 

" Blue-eyed Maid " 8 

" Defiance " 3 

" Eagle" 3 

" Express " 3, 4 

" Foreign Mall " 3 

" Phoenix" 3 

" Royal Mail " 3 

" Tally-ho " 3, 216 

" Telegraph " 3 

" Union " 3 

" Worthington's Safety " 3 

Coaching 3-5, 23, 39, 45, 58, 92, 216 

Coal and Wine Dues 50 

Cobham Park 61, 97 

" Coldharbours " 228-230 



PAGE 

Colet, Dean 185, 209-212 

Court«nay's Rebell on 175-183 

Crayford 47-49 

Crook Long 45 

Cycling Records 201 

" Danes " Holes 46 

Dartford 49-60, 97, 118, 200 

Denton, near Canterbury 233-236 

Denton by Gravesend 79-81 

Deptford 23 

Dickens, Charles... 81, 87, 90-93, 102-104 
106, 126, 141 

Don Juan 37-39, 213, 243 

Dover 220, 242-257 

Drellingore Stream 239 

Dunkirk 181-183 

EUzabeth, Queen 6, 23, 26, 119 

Erasmus, Disiderius 185, 209-212 

Falstaff, Sir John 87, 93 

Faversham 146, 166, 170-172 

Gad's Hill 86-95 

Gravesend 4, 18, 60, 62, 66-70, 86, 91 

Greenhithe 60, 62, 89 

Greenstreet 163 

Greenwich Park 25 

Guudulf, Bishop 54 

Gutteridge Gate 216 

Harbledown 173, 183-186, 194 

Hengist and Horsa 48 

Henry V 30, 154 

Henry VIII 117-119, 151, 195-197 

Hermits 55, 151-153, 161, 163, 171 

Hernhill 168,181 

Highwaymen ....25, 36-40, 71, 87-90, 217 

Hops 163 

Horn's Cross 62 

Huggens* College 66 

Ingoldsby Legends, The 80, 134, 234-236 

" Ingoldsby Abbey " 80 

Inns (mentioned at length) : — 

" Blue-eyed Maid," Southwark 8 

"Bull," Dartford 55, 107 

" Bull," Rochester 107 

" Bull," Shooter's Hill 36 

" Crispin and Crispianus," 

Strood 101, 171 

" Crown," Rochester 119 

" Falstaff," Canterbury 187 

" Falstaff," (Jad'9 Hill 90, 94 



THE DOVER ROAD 



PAGE 
Inns (mentioned at length) — continued — 

" George," Sittingbourne 155 

" George," Southwark 7. 8 

" Golden Cross," Xew Cross 22 

" Gun," Sittingbourne 156 

" Half Moon," Southwark 8 

"Key," Key Street 148 

" Lion," Sittingbourne 155, 160 

" Lord Nelson." Chalk 86 

" Eed Lion," Canterbiu-y 189-192 

" Red Lion," Dunkirk 181, 182 

" Red Lion," Sittingbourne 154 

" Rose," Canterbviry 174, 189 

" Rose," Sittingbourne 155 

" Spur," Southwark 8 

" Tabard," Southwark 8, 12, 13, 18 

" White Hart," Sittingbourne 156, 157 

James IT 70, 121, 170 

" Jezreel, James Jershom " 137-140 

John's Hole 62 

Kearsney 2, 38, 240 

Kent Street 9 

Key Street 97, 148 

Kidbrook 34, 35 



London Bridge 2, 5-7, 12, 19, 
Lydden , 



44. 200 



Marlowe, Christopher 23 

" Milestones on the Dover Road " 19 

Milton-next-Gravesend 77-79 

Milton-next-Sittingbourne 146, 153, 159 

" Mockbeggars " 230 

Moor Street 141 

Murston 153, 161 

Nevison, John 90 

New Cross 21, 23, 200 

Newington 142-149, 226 

Northfleet 61, 62-64, 66, 97 

" Old England's Hole " 223 

Old Kent Road 5, 19-22, 200 

Old-Time Travellers, in general 11-18, 22 
56, 70-77, 87-90, 115-122 
183-186, 190-201 
Old-Time Travellers :— 
Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince 

Consort 199-201 

Bassompierre, Marshal de 70 

Cossuma Albertus, Prince 89 

Dalkeith, Countess of 198 

Grosley, M 73-77 

Henrietta Maria, Princess 198 

Moritz, Pastor 56 

Nivernais, Due de 104, 190-194 



PAGE 

Old-Time Travellers — continued — 

Peel, Sir Robert 199 

Rochefort, M. Jouvin de 71 

Sorbiere, M. Samuel de 72 

Zinzerling, Herr Justus 154 

Ospringe 97, 145, 149, 161, 165 

Pepys, Samuel 36, 121 

Pilgrims 11-18, 161, 172, 183-186, 207-213 
Preston 166 

Radfield 163 

Rainham 140-142 

River 240 

Rochester 95, 97, 102-125, 200 

Rochester Castle 54, 106, 114 

Rochester Cathedral 54, 105, 108-113 

Romans, The 27, 47, 60, 76, 95-99 

144-148, 199, 218-233, 244 
Rosherville Gardens 64 

St. Radigund's Abbey 240 

St. Thomas a Watering 18 

St. WiUiam of Perth Ill 

Schamel, Hermitage of 151-153 

Shooter's Hill 35-40 

Shoulder of Mutton Green 44 

Sittingbourne 97, 144, 150-161 

Southwark 7-18 

Spielman, Sir John 51-53 

Springhead 61, 65 

Stone 62 

Strood 60, 61, 94, 97, 100-102 

Swanscombe 60 

Tappington, Everard 236 

Telegraph Hill 11 

Telegraph Tower, Southwark 9-11 

Temple Ewell 238, 240 

Teynham 163 

Thom, John Nichols (calling himself 
" Sir William Percy Honey wood 

Courtenay ") 174-183 

Tong 163 

Tramps 41-44 

Turnpike Gates 62, 216 

Turpin, Dick 90 

Tyler, Wat 27-30,57 

Watercress 65 

Watling Street 34, 47, 60, 95-99 

144-148, 214, 223 

Watts, Richard 119 

Welling 44 

White Hill 49 

Wolsey, Cardinal 31, 195 



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